A total of 21 MIGMAPO MiG-29 Fulcrum combat aircraft, sold by Moldavia to the USA for $40 million, have been delivered disassembled to Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, by Boeing C-17 transport aircraft.

George Kyrlan, the Moldavan secretary of the National Security Council and presidential defence advisor, says that the sale was prompted by the USA's concern that the nuclear-capable aircraft might be purchased by Iran.

The Fulcrums are a mix of six A models, one two-seat trainer, and 14 Fulcrum Cs, the last variant to enter front-line service with the Soviet air force. The Moldavan Fulcrum Cs are believed to have been former Soviet aircraft, and therefore wired for tactical-nuclear-weapons carriage.

The USAF will fly the aircraft for test purposes. Along with the Fulcrums, it also received some 500 air-to-air missiles, including versions of the Vympel R-13 (AA-2 Atoll), R-60 (AA-8 Aphid), R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) and R-73 (AA-11 Archer). Among the 100 or so R-73s are understood to be late-model versions. Late-model R-7s have improvements to the infra-red seeker to increase its capability to reject infra-red countermeasures.

MIG MAPO officials say that the Moldovan MiG-29s are not in good condition, but point out that they are fitted with an identification friend-or-foe system, probably the system which NATO has codenamed Slap Shot, details of which are still classified as secret by Russia.

Moldova has a further six MiG-29s which it also intends to sell. The aircraft, however, will be only be made available to countries to the which the USA has no objection to receiving them.

Source: Flight International