Ukraine is preparing for the appearance of F-16 fighter jets. Skeptics are still not convinced and say that these fighters will not change the course of the war and will not have a greater significance. However, the officials of the Ukrainian Air Force have an entirely different opinion.
Ukrainian pilots are learning to operate F-16 fighter jets and the weapons systems delivered with them. Since the beginning of the invasion, Ukraine is still far inferior to Russia in the air, and the appearance of modern fighter jets could change that.
The range of the F-16’s weaponry is much greater than that of Soviet fighters. The F-16 can see the enemy where the enemy cannot. But skeptics, including Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, reiterate that while the F-16 is an amazing weapon, it won’t change the course of the war.
The representative of the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, had a single answer to the statement of Minister Pevkur – “The planes will change the course of the war and will change it very seriously.”
Ihnat emphasized that Ukraine needs modern aircraft capable of gaining air superiority. We are talking about certain modifications of the F-16s that can hit targets on the ground and in the air. Ihnat says that such fighters should protect Ukraine from missile and drone attacks.
According to the representative of the Ukrainian Air Force, the F-16s will significantly affect the course of the war, because it will become difficult to cover the ground forces for the enemy and it will force the Russian planes to retreat.
“Look at how many guided bombs the enemy is launching. With an aviation system like the F-16, we can stop what Russia is doing. Namely, to drive out the Russian aviation and provide air cover for our ground forces,” added Ihnat.
Ihnat is talking about the attacks conducted by Russian planes, which take place without the aircraft entering the air defense zone of Ukraine. Russian aircraft approach, drop bombs or launch missiles, and subsequently withdraw because they know that they are beyond Ukraine’s reach.
The F-16’s longer-range radar, longer-range missiles, and electronic warfare capabilities could change that—in Ukraine, it could force Russian planes to withdraw further from its borders—from where they wouldn’t be able to perform their attacks.
Written by Alius Noreika