Home World How Ukraine’s new F-16s will help end Russia’s air dominance

How Ukraine’s new F-16s will help end Russia’s air dominance

How Ukraine's new F-16s will help end Russia's air dominance

Volodymyr Zelensky I could hardly contain my excitement. A broad smile appeared on his face as he entered the cockpit of the F-16 accompanied by the Danish Prime Minister. Mette Frederiksen. It was August, and the president of Ukraine was ending his long but successful diplomatic campaign at an air base in Denmark to convince Western allies of the importance of sending fighter jets to their armed forces.

“All Ukrainians are waiting for the day when the first Ukrainian F-16s will appear in our skies and strengthen the defense of our cities and towns,” Zelensky said on Friday, sharing images of Ukrainian F-16 pilots training in Denmark. “It’s a lot of fun to fly the plane”he admitted to the newspaper telegraph a Ukrainian pilot, identified as Sunfish. “I’m not saying the MiG I flew before is very boring, but the F-16 is definitely more agile. “You get the feeling that the plane wants you to fly more aggressively,” he told the British newspaper.

But as Russian forces advance positions along the front line, the long-awaited F-16s may not be the “silver bullet” the country is looking for, according to the former commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s army. Valeri Zaluzhni. In this sense, experts do not believe that fighter jets can make a decisive contribution to unbalancing a stagnant war, although they benefit the Ukrainian air force.

An important factor limiting the impact of the F-16 is the large number of Russian surface-to-air missiles on the battlefield, including the S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft systems, which can attack targets hundreds of kilometers away. Although Ukraine’s biggest challenge may be building the infrastructure needed to fly the fighter jets, which are designed to operate on extremely smooth and clean runways. In addition, Kiev also needs to build enough airfields to be able to move aircraft around the country and prevent them from being tracked and attacked by Russian missile attacks.

However, the F-16s will be useful when it comes to that Maintaining the Ukrainian Air Force in the coming months of the war. Ultimately, the Ukrainian fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29s and Su-24s with British Storm Shadows will succumb to the ongoing conflict. Some planes are shot down by Russia. Others will fall by the wayside due to a lack of spare parts from Moscow-controlled companies to repair wear and damage.

In contrast, the F-16 is not a long-term solution for Ukraine at all. In fact, some of the fighters offered to Kiev did so around 40 years, just like many of their MiG-29s. There are doubts about the durability of their delicate hulls under the strain of constant departures. But at least in the medium term they offer a lifeline.

Ukraine not only lacks aircraft, but also qualified pilots. Even the best MiG-29 pilots For them, the transition to the F-16 was difficult, warn experts. In any case, the F-16s offer the Ukrainian pilots who fly them greater survivability compared to their Soviet-era counterparts. While the MiG-29 has radars capable of focusing on a single target, the F-16 offers pilots greater situational awareness, which is crucial if they want to stay alert to threats. That is one of its advantages.

When the United States agreed to allow its allies to donate the F-16s, it also signed export declarations for shipments of AIM-120 medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM) to be used with the aircraft. On paper, the advanced weapons donated by Ukraine’s allies will work best when fired from an F-16.

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