According to reports, the US plans to provide Ukraine with 81 outdated combat aircraft from the Soviet era that it purchased from Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic.

As the Communist bloc broke apart in the 1990s, Kazakhstan, like other former Soviet states, inherited a variety of Soviet military assets.
Over the past few years, Kazakhstan has been steadily updating its fleet, moving from antiquated combat aircraft built in the Soviet Union to more modern aircraft such as the Russian Su-30SM multirole aircraft.
As part of this procedure, Kazakhstan said in October of last year that it planned to sell 117 fighter and bomber aircraft from the Soviet era. These included the 1970s and 1980s-produced Su-24 bombers, MiG-29 fighters, MiG-27 fighter-bombers, and MiG-31 interceptors.

With an average value of $19,300 per plane, the announced sale value was one billion Kazakhstani tenge, or roughly $2.26 million.

The aircraft were considered useless and economically prohibitive for renovation, with minimal utility as a source of spare parts, according to a report published at the time by EurAsian Times.
But according to sources from the Ukrainian Telegram group Insider UA and the Russian English-language news site Reporter.RU, the US recently bought 81 airplanes through offshore companies. The report also stated that Su-24s, MiG-29s, and MiG-27s are among the purchased aircraft.
This development might potentially put Kazakhstan’s historical ties with Russia, a vital military and geopolitical ally in the post-Soviet space, under strain as it coincides with Kazakhstan’s growing alignment with the West in Central Asia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken firmly backed Kazakhstan’s “independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity” during his visit to the nation in March 2023.

Not long after, several Russian pundits expressed concern that Kazakhstan would repeat the unrest that had occurred in Ukraine and recommended that Russia keep a careful eye on the country. Russian TV pundit Vladimir Solovyov issued a warning against the spread of “Nazi processes” that could cause turmoil in Kazakhstan equal to that which happened in Ukraine.

There is conjecture that the US acquired aircraft models, such as Su-24 bombers, MiG-27s, and MiG-29s, that are very compatible with Ukraine’s operational capabilities and may be planned for deployment to Kyiv.
It has been reported that the Air Forces of Ukraine (AFU) may be able to dismantle them for spare parts or use the old airframes as airport decoys to increase their operational adaptability and durability.
The possible transfer of Su-24 bombers is especially significant because it may be essential to preserving Ukraine’s current Su-24 force.

With assistance from NATO partners, Ukraine has made considerable use of this platform to counter Russian forces, turning it into a deadly deep-strike system. The precise quantity of Su-24 airplanes that the United States purchased from Kazakhstan is still unknown.

The most effective air-to-ground platform available to the UkrAF (Ukraine Air Force) is the Su-24M. With a maximum payload capacity of 8,000 kg (17,637 lb), it can launch deadly strikes against targets in the enemy territory.
The Russian Aerospace Forces (RuAF) continue to target Ukrainian Su-24s as their primary objective in their attempt to establish air superiority over Ukraine, demonstrating Russia’s recognition of the threat these aircraft pose.

In spite of this, the only surviving Ukrainian Air Force (UkrAF) Su-24 unit, the 7th Tactical Aviation Brigade (brTA), has proven to be tough and resilient in the face of numerous attacks.
Armed with previously supplied Western weaponry, the brigade has persisted in dealing serious harm to Russian soldiers while utilizing the Su-24M’s capabilities.

Su-24Ms were among the first Ukrainian Air Force aircraft to fly over critical targets, like Hostomel Airport, during the early phases of the conflict. This allowed the UkrAF to significantly disrupt Russian operations and reinforcements.
The Su-24Ms fulfilled their tasks despite suffering losses during these operations, highlighting their significance in Ukraine’s defensive plan.
In order to preserve the brigade’s strength in the front lines, the Ukrainian Air Force also employed creative strategies. This involved bringing back into service retired pilots and navigators as well as refurbishing abandoned Su-24 airframes kept in Ukraine.

But the United Kingdom’s donation of the covert Storm Shadow cruise missiles marked a turning point. By modifying the Su-24s to carry these cutting-edge weaponry, British and Ukrainian experts greatly improved the brigade’s operational capabilities.

The brigade’s casualty rate fell sharply as a result of being able to launch attacks from a safe distance of up to 155 miles in Ukrainian-controlled airspace, which signaled a significant change in the dynamics of the fight.
The efficacy of the French-donated Storm Shadow and related SCALP (Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée) missiles has presented a significant obstacle for Russian air defenses. They turn out to be very precise and challenging to intercept.
Russian military operations have suffered severe setbacks as a result of Su-24s armed with these missiles effectively hitting critical installations in Crimea and logistical hubs in Russian-occupied Ukraine.


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