I cannot specify the exact number of F-16 fighters that we will receive from the Western allies, but there will be several dozen of them, said the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, Col. Yuri Ihnat
I cannot specify the exact number of F-16 fighters that we will receive from the Western allies, but there will be several dozen of them, said the spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, Col. Yuri Ihnat. He adds that to replace the post-Soviet air fleet, Ukraine needs about 150 fighters.
Ihnat emphasizes that Ukraine needs to replace its entire air fleet, which mostly consists of old Soviet-made aircraft. “To do that, we need about 150 new fighters,” he says. The spokesman did not disclose the specific number of F-16s that Western allies would provide to Ukraine. “I can only say that there will be dozens of them,” he added.
Some of the weapons donated by the West have been adapted to Soviet-made fighters, which are at the disposal of the Ukrainian Air Force. As the spokesman explains, this process causes the rockets to lose their power. He explains that missiles that cannot be upgraded must be armed on the ground.
“A good example is the AGM-88 HARM missiles. Their functions are now limited because we have to program them on the ground. If they were launched from the F-16, their power would increase significantly,” he explains and adds that thanks to the F-16, this problem will disappear.
According to Ihnat, training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters will start in the near future. “Our military will undergo express training abroad,” he explains.
There have been reports in the media about the possibility of employing former American pilots by Ukraine. They would operate the F-16 until the Ukrainian pilots were trained. When asked about it, the spokesman declined to comment.
The colonel points out that the F-16 allows Ukraine to dominate the air combat zone. “The Russians have five, maybe even six times air superiority,” he says.
The spokesman emphasizes that Russia also has much better technology. As he explains, Russian fighters are constantly being modernized, and their radars have three times the range of their Soviet counterparts currently used by Ukraine.
“In addition, Russian missiles are armed with actively guided warheads. Thanks to F-16 fighters and Patriot systems, we will be able to eliminate the advantage of the Russians,” he states.
Ihnat points out that the main goal of the Ukrainian Air Force is to “close the skies” over Ukraine and regain advantage in the Russian-occupied territories. “The fighter jets will patrol our skies – they will move quickly between airports and spot potential danger,” he says.
He explains that the F-16's wide range of weapons allows it to destroy precisely defined targets. "I mean – for example – cruise missiles, guided aerial bombs, or aerial directional missiles. We will be able to carry out very precise attacks on Russian weapons depots and logistics.
F-16 fighters will make it easier for Ukraine to protect its territories. The spokesman explains that F-16 pilots working with ground defense will be able to eliminate Russian cruise missiles and Kamikaze drones. However, as Ihnat explains, it's not just about Ukrainian cities.
Ukraine does not have F-16s and never has. Therefore, the training of Ukrainian pilots who fly other types of aircraft would take about a year. And there is no time for that now. Such F-16 training cannot be carried out in Ukraine, because there are no training aircraft, no instructors, and no appropriate infrastructure. The MiG-29 is an aircraft known in Ukraine. After the collapse of the USSR, the Ukrainian military aviation inherited Soviet aircraft, including MiG-29. This type of military aircraft is well known there.
These are two completely different planes. MiG-29 aircraft are so-called front-line fighters, that's how they were classified by the USSR. These are quite short-range aircraft, used for defensive operations, i.e. shooting down other aircraft or helicopters. The MiG-29 can carry weapons to attack ground targets, but these are regular bombs and unguided missiles.
In turn, the F-16 is a classic multirole aircraft, i.e. it can be used to defend against other aircraft, just like the MiGi-29, but also for reconnaissance tasks when equipped with the appropriate containers. The F-16 is also a strike aircraft, as it carries a very large palette of different types of weapons for attacking ground targets. Therefore, it is a fully multirole fighter. The differences are that the F-16 has a longer range than the MiG-29. Another important difference is that the F-16 can refuel in the air, while the versions of the MiG-29s used in Ukraine cannot.