Hungary’s defense ministry is selling off eight of its MIG-29 planes to raise cash, reports the Emerging Europe blog of The Wall Street Journal.
The MIG jets were designed by Soviet Union-based airplane factory Mikoyan and entered service in 1983. Hungary received 28 MIG-29s in 1993 as debt compensation from Russia. The planes soon became local pilots’ favorites due to excellent maneuverability, which allowed the likes of Péter Kovács, Gyula Vári and Zoltán Szabó to win world championship titles for flying them.
However, there were also downsides. MIGs are well-known for their high maintenance costs and high fuel consumption. Also, when Hungary became a member of the NATO in 1999, it became apparent that there would be compatibility issues. Instead of trying to prolong the MIGs’ lifespan and upgrading their systems, the government decided to replace them with Gripens manufactured by Sweden’s Saab.