Ukraine needs to replace its morally and physically outdated Soviet-made aircraft of various types with a single type of multipurpose fighter jet in order to protect the skies. The F-16 can become such a fighter jet in the number of 200 pieces.
Source: Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for the Air Force of Ukraine, on air with the La Chaîne Info French TV channel and in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda
Details: Ihnat has pointed out that Ukraine is one of the largest countries in Europe, and it needs air protection both in wartime and peacetime.
The aircraft grouping of the occupiers that is located at 40 airfields in Russia, Belarus and occupied territories is five or six times bigger than Ukrainian aircraft in terms of the quantity of vehicles.
Quote: "In addition, we are behind when it comes to technologies. Therefore, the need is serious. We need to create up to five tactical aircraft brigades with a single type of Western-type multipurpose aircraft. It is now being determined what type it will be…
Obviously, we cannot receive all of them at once, but gradually transitioning to a new multipurpose jet is a demand of time.
As of now, the F-16 is the most likely candidate to replace outdated Soviet-made jets, because there are certain unbiased reasons for that. And this is not a sole decision; we are constantly having consultations with our partners.
Indeed, Ukraine will not get everything at once; obviously, it will be several aircraft units first, the squadrons.
First, we need to prepare flight crews, aircraft engineers and airfield infrastructure for further switching to new equipment types and everything that comes with it.
Then, we need to form up to five aircraft brigades. Each of the brigades can include up to three squadrons. Such a state as Ukraine, one of the largest ones in Europe, needs this exact number of jets, and it will be a full rearmament and replacement of old Soviet-made equipment."
More details: Ihnat has said that the Air Force of Ukraine has 11 brigades at the moment: one training brigade, three transport brigades, one assault brigade, one bombardment brigade and five fighter brigades. The Air Force received the newest jet, the Su-25, in 1991.
He has also pointed out that such a reform of the Air Force was planned long before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It is about gradual rearmament and switching to Western equipment by 2035: aircraft, anti-aircraft missile systems, and UAVs. The war has significantly accelerated this process. Ihnat has emphasised that supplies of weapons do not happen very fast. Nevertheless, negotiations are ongoing at all levels.
The spokesperson has stressed that the F-16 jet has a wide range of weapons: it can strike both ground targets (such as ammunition and fuel storage points, fortifications and armoured vehicles of the enemy) and all kinds of aerodynamic targets (such as missiles, jets, helicopters and kamikaze drones).
Ihnat has added that obtaining air superiority will let the army successfully conduct ground operations, including the liberation of Ukrainian land.
As for possible terms of F-16 supply, he has specified that there has to be a relevant decision at the highest level first; therefore, making any predictions now is incorrect. At the same time, he has stated that pilots and other specialists are ready for training, and relevant bodies are already adapting the infrastructure.
- The Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine pointed out that receiving multipurpose fighter jets was a priority for them.
- Yurii Ihnat said that a multipurpose jet is capable of carrying out various tasks, including efficiently fighting air threats, including cruise missiles and UAVs, and striking ground targets at the same time. This particularly refers to American-made F-16, F-15 or F-18 aircraft of certain modifications or their European analogues.
- President Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that after the decision on tanks, Ukraine should be supplied with aircraft, and this is an important task.
- The manufacturer of American F-16 fighters is ready to supply its aircraft to European countries, which could then re-export the fighter jets to Ukraine.
- Emmanuel Macron, President of France, does not exclude the possibility of supplying Ukraine with fighter jets.