Ukraine could receive F-16s? Expert says it should – Technology Org

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General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon might have taken its maiden flight in 1974, but it is still a mighty relevant machine. It was designed as an air superiority fighter, but became a very versatile jet fighter. And after many iterations, it is still being produced today. Ukraine could definitely use these amazing flying machines, but would its allies agree to supply them?

For some time it is being discussed whether Ukraine could use F-16 fighters.

For some time it is being discussed whether Ukraine could use F-16 fighters. Image credit: Staff Sgt. Cherie A. Thurlby via Wikimedia

Understanding that Ukraine needs combat aircraft was there during the initial stages of the Russian invasion. However, at first Ukraine’s allies didn’t find a possibility to supply the defending country with fighter jets without making themselves a part of this conflict.

In a certain sense, it’s a scary proposition for the entire world – how can NATO countries allow jet fighters to lift off from their airfields, fly into an active war zone, and not start a war between NATO and Russia?

However, a lot of time has passed since February 24th and Ukraine’s allies have supplied Ukraine with everything from missiles to tanks and other heavy machinery. It might be the time Western countries reconsider donating jet fighters to Ukraine.

James Stavridis, a retired U.S. Navy admiral and a former supreme allied commander of NATO, in his opinion piece on Bloomberg wrote that Ukraine is winning its defensive war on land, but Russia still has an advantage in the air.

Changing that could bring a quicker end to this war – something Ukraine and its allies desperately want. Stavridis says that providing more tools for Ukraine to cover its own sky might force Russia to actually start negotiations. Russia has repeatedly expressed its willingness to negotiate, but only on its terms, which are unacceptable to Ukraine.

For example, Russia now considers Zaporizhia, Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Crimea its integral parts, which are not negotiable. Obviously, this doesn’t work for Ukraine, which is currently liberating some of these territories.

According to Stavridis, these tools could be advanced air-defense systems, such as the Iron Dome, Patriot or similar, and jet fighters. The MiG-29 seems like an obvious choice, as Ukrainians are highly familiar with these Soviet-made fighters, however, Starvidis mentioned another flyer – the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The F-16 has been around for decades and it is still a highly capable fighter. It is a multipurpose all-weather single-engine fighter, which in its latest versions can penetrate into MACH 2 speed zone (max speed –  2,178 km/h). F-16 can carry large amounts of various weapons, including air-to-air, air-to-surface and anti-ship missiles, as well as many different guided bombs. It is a highly maneuverable aircraft, capable of standing on its own in a dogfight.

But do Ukraine’s allies even have F-16s to spare? Well, Stavridis said one word – surplus. The F-16 has been around for so long that more than 4,600 have been produced. It’s operated by many countries and in some, it might be replaced with F-35s pretty soon. There definitely are some F-16s to spare, but the question is training – preparing Ukrainian pilots to control these American-made fighters might take a bit too long for them to be used in this ongoing war.

 

Source: Bloomberg, Wikipedia




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