Kyiv will not receive F-16 fighter jets this year from allies: Ukrainian Air Force

The modern aircraft won’t be there by winter, according to a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian Air Force, therefore they won’t be used in the most recent counteroffensive effort.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force announced late on Wednesday that the country will not be receiving any F-16 fighter jets from its allies this year, as had been hoped. This confirms that the cutting-edge aircraft will not be used in the present counteroffensive. The spokesperson, Yuriy Ihnat, told Ukrainian television, “It is already clear that we won’t be able to defend Ukraine with F-16 fighters this autumn and winter.” He continued, “We had great expectations for this airplane.

What you need to know about Ukraine’s ongoing F-16 demands is provided here:

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The F-16: What is it?
The 1976-born F-16 “Fighting Falcon” is a supersonic fighter jet employed by military forces in 25 different nations for air-to-air combat and air-to-ground missions. Manufacturers in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway work with American defense contractor Lockheed Martin to construct it. The jet, which can cost up to $63 million, depending on the model, is widely regarded as being adaptable, lightweight, and affordable. Around 3,000 people are serving in the military right now, including dozens of Air Force and Navy members from the United States.

Why do the jets matter to Ukraine?
Although Ukraine has MiG and Sukhoi fighter jets from the Soviet era, it claims that F-16s will allow it to gain air superiority, which neither side has conclusively achieved since Russia began its full-scale invasion in February 2022.

F-16s, according to Ukraine, might strengthen its air defences as constant Russian missile barrages wear down Kyiv’s ground-launched systems. Additionally, they would make it possible for the army of Kiev to more successfully fend off Russian attack helicopters that target Ukrainian tanks and armoured vehicles. Without the jets, Ukraine would also find it much more difficult to put into practice the fighting strategies taught to its military by NATO forces.

Why have F-16s not been delivered to Ukraine?
Senior Ukrainian leaders, including President Volodymyr Zelensky, have been pleading with the US and other nations to provide F-16s to Kiev for months. The Biden administration, however, which must approve any transfers of the American-made aircraft, had objected. President Biden abruptly reversed course in May and agreed to permit Ukrainian pilots to receive training on the aircraft in response to pressure from Britain and the Netherlands. This step moved in the direction of allowing other nations to provide the planes to Ukraine.

However, according to American officials, Ukraine has only found eight combat pilots who can communicate in English well enough to begin a training program that should take at least a year. This is less than a squadron. This month, another 20 or so people are going to Britain to study English. According to Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, “Ukrainian pilots will return from the training, and the planes will come back with them.” It will be a coordinated process, he said, even if they don’t necessarily arrive in the cockpits.

Without the use of its jets, can Ukraine launch a counteroffensive?
Faced with firmly established Russian defences, the counteroffensive Ukraine started in June has yet to make a significant breakthrough. Additionally, Ukrainian pilots will not receive training on the cutting-edge aircraft in time to support and defend the ground forces engaged in the assault.

However, in interviews, officials from Ukraine, the US, and Europe as well as Western defense specialists have stated that they think Kyiv’s assault might still succeed without the planes, albeit it would probably be considerably more challenging.