If US citizen buys cold war era MiG-15 jet fighter aircraft, which: - had been acquired from the museum (facility of the Ministry of Defense one of the European Union countries, member of NATO) by private person (contract document is available); - is still located in that country; - at least for time being the plane will stay located in that country even after the US citizen buys it from that private person;

Now, since that US citizen is also dual citizen of that country: - Is there anything which he needs to do to be in compliance with US law? - Is there anything which he should not do to be in compliance with US law? - Or, since the plane will stay in that country (no import/export will take place), is everything basically governed by that country law only and he is good just to stay in compliance with the law of that country?

Does the same apply to any weapon/armament accessories present like cannons, gun camera, gun sight, ejection seat? E.g. cannons are now independently stored at the third party, licensed to handle military material. He would not get cannons to his possession until unless they are modified (deactivated) according to the law of that country.

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    $\begingroup$ This is really something you need to work with an FSDO on, importing or registering a demilitarized jet is a complicated process. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Jul 15, 2017 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ Hello Ron, thank you, but NO import/export/registering will take place, plane will stay in Europe. I just want to know if pure owning does not break any US law... $\endgroup$
    – Jonny
    Jul 17, 2017 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ While this is aviation-related, you might get a better answer on law.SE because you're asking a fairly complex question about legally owning something abroad that might be illegal in the US. And there's the dual citizenship point, too, which could complicate things (or not, I have no idea). $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jul 18, 2017 at 14:47

2 Answers 2


With mere possession the only issue you might run into is any live, functional weapons on the aircraft. This is governed more by the nature of the device than the person owning it. Generally speaking, Europe is far less accommodating regarding private citizen ownership of military weapons than the US, especially nasty ones like automatic cannons. If they have been demilled to the specifications of the country in which they reside, then they're not guns any more, just decorations.

A couple of years ago, I saw a Soviet era MI-24 attack helicopter for sale in the US. Main and tail rotors present, no engines, no weapons, cockpit was pretty much gutted, airframe was past its useful life, for static display only. It looked intact from the outside... and also looked very sinister. For some odd reason, my wife balked at me spending $8k on this ultimate lawn decoration. But, there were no regulations regarding its ownership, other than maybe a neighborhood association getting huffy about someone parking an attack helicopter in their front yard.

Now, if you want to actually fly the MIG15, that's a different matter. But if you as a US citizen want to purchase a MIG15 as a static display, without functional weapons, the only thing the US government is going to care about is whether you paid their income tax on the money you use to buy it.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. Any other opinions on the matter from the experts are more than welcomed... $\endgroup$
    – Jonny
    Jul 24, 2017 at 10:29

It is legal for FAA registered/US Owned planes to be kept in Europe and due to regulations its done fairly often. As for owning a Mig-15 as long as its kept airworthy you should be fine. I even see some for sale here in the states. You don't need to physically import the plane for it to be US owned and Registered.

As for the legality there are some things you need to keep in mind

As for the weapons on board, the simple answer is, don't bother messing with that. The EU's gun regulations tend to be far stricter than here in the US. With the exception of California's ban on the .50BMG round there really is no caliber limit here in the US and with proper paperwork you can own pretty much anything you want. With that in mind you could legally own the guns that would come on the plane here in the states but as to if you can fly with them is a completely different question. You can not militarize an aircraft so keeping the guns on the plane is out of the question. FWIW if this is something you are looking into its worth it to have the current owner strip all this kind of stuff out prior to your purchase.

  • $\begingroup$ "you can not militarize", but does that include owning something that was "militarized" when purchased... Interesting idea, might have a loophole there. Another thing to consider is that it might not even be legal to own and operate the MiG in the EU when in airworthy condition, armed or not. I don't know EU aviation law and regulations well enough, but it might well be that the aircraft lacks the documentation at individual or type level to allow civilian operation, in which case it's not legal to fly it in the EU and the only way to ship it out would be on a truck or barge. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Aug 15, 2017 at 6:54
  • $\begingroup$ @jwenting yes I presume that includes already militarized jets here in the states. Legally you are operating under FAA regs for airworthiness so im not sure how the EU stuff applies over that. You would need any physical equipment (transponders etc) required for their airspace but would be operating under FAA airworthiness regs. A lawyer is a good idea in this case. $\endgroup$
    – Dave
    Aug 15, 2017 at 15:13

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