Military Aviation

Ukraine might receive first F-16 fighters after May 5, Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson says

Ukraine first F-16 fighters

Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash revealed that Kyiv might receive the first batch of F-16 multirole fighters after Orthodox Easter on Sunday, May 5, 2024.

Since the dates have already been changed multiple times, Yevlash provided no details on the dates given that the Ukrainian Air Force “does not think about these dates.”

“Our task is to work with what is provided to us, we are not directly responsible for supplies, this is a question for the highest military-political leadership. When the first fighters arrive in Ukraine, we will definitely talk about it,” said Yevlash.

Delays

According to Kyiv Post, initial reports in August 2023 said the multirole fighters would be delivered to Ukraine by New Year, though the dates have been delayed multiple times. More recent reports pointing toward the second quarter of this year, which would coincide with Yevlash’s statements.

As already reported, the US allowed its Western allies to supply Ukraine with advanced fighter jets, including American-made F-16s, in a major boost for Kyiv. Actually, these aircraft’s modern avionics – as opposed to the current Soviet-era jets used by Ukraine – will aid Ukrainian Air Force’s efforts in controlling its country airspace against Russian aerial threats.

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The UK, Norway, Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark welcomed the US move: these countries not only pledged F-16s to Ukraine during the summer of 2023, but also pledged to train Ukrainian pilots to operate the NATO-standard multirole fighters.

November 2023 reports suggested that the maintenance of the multirole fighters could take place in Poland, but it’s not clear if Ukraine and its Western allies will proceed with this plan.

As already explained, in April, an anonymous Ukrainian senior military officer told Politico that “F-16s were needed in 2023; they won’t be right for 2024.”

A force multiplier

According to Newsweek, before the jets take off in Ukraine, Western countries say, Ukrainian personnel must complete their training programs, and the necessary infrastructure and facilities must be up and running in the country.

Eric Wicklund, former US Navy Operations Specialist, explained on Quora that F-16s can make a big difference although alone won’t win the war for Ukraine. But, like most air assets, F-16s will function as a “force multiplier.” F-16s will make it easier for Ukraine’s ground forces to do their job. F-16s will allow Ukraine to gain, at least temporary air superiority, so that they can perform ground strikes against Russian positions, limiting the effectiveness of Russian ground units, and thereby enhancing the effectiveness of Ukrainian ground units.

‘So far, Ukraine ground units have held far better equipped Russian ground units to a standstill. And that’s with little to no air support. With F-16s available, Ukraine will finally have that air support. So, while F-16s alone are not a magic bullet, they can be the catalyst that turns things for the better in Ukraine’s favor.’

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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