When the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991, the newly independent states within its former domain inherited enormous stockpiles of weapons the Red Army left behind.
One of the most interesting cases involved the air force of the tiny former Soviet republic of Moldova.
The new republic’s inventory consisted of 34 MiG-29 Fulcrums, eight Mi-8 Hip helicopters and a handful of transport aircraft — a sizeable force for such a small state.
Moldova couldn’t afford to maintain the fleet and, to make matters worse, was in a deep recession.
Meanwhile, the United States feared Moldova would sell the MiG-29s to Iran
Washington was also wary that Moldova might pass the technology to Iran’s rivals since the fleet included 14 MiG-29C variants configured to deliver nuclear weapons.
So in 1997, the United States purchased the MiG-29s for itself. Washington bought 21 of the MiG-29s — including 14 C models , one B model and six A models — and flew them in pieces on C-17 transport planes to Dayton, Ohio.
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