TechF-16s to bolster Ukrainian defence, but breakthrough unlikely

F‑16s to bolster Ukrainian defence, but breakthrough unlikely

F-16 fighters - illustrative photo
F-16 fighters - illustrative photo
Images source: © Getty Images | 2022 Anadolu Agency
Mateusz Tomczak

17 June 2024 12:43

Jarosław Wolski, a defence analyst, commented on the upcoming debut of F-16 fighters in Ukraine. According to the Polish expert, Western machines will significantly aid the defenders' army in combatting the Russians but will not bring a breakthrough in the ongoing war. However, this is not due to the capabilities and equipment of the F-16, which we remind you of, but due to other factors.

Countries assisting Ukraine in 2023 formed the so-called coalition to support this country with F-16 fighters. So far, several dozen such machines have been allocated, but they will reach the front gradually in small batches of a few, up to a dozen at most. This will not allow for surprising the Russians and depleting their resources.

How will the F-16s help Ukraine?

"Will this be a breakthrough? Unfortunately, that is not the case. If suddenly, around 40 F-16s and 6-8 promised Mirage 2000s appeared over Ukraine, we could maybe talk about a dramatic change in the situation. Unfortunately, it seems that new aircraft will appear in quantities of 6-12-18 in batches over a longer period. [...] New machines will likely relieve air defence in western Ukraine and allow for its partial relocation to eastern and northern Ukraine. Secondly, they will be a carrier of stand-off armaments from the West. This will improve the situation for Ukrainians, but I wouldn't expect a breakthrough," Jarosław Wolski wrote on his profile on the X platform.

The F-16 is the most popular combat aircraft in the world, capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 2, or over 2,090 km/h (1,300 mph). It continues to be a strength for many countries, including NATO members. It is standardly equipped with a six-barrelled M61 Vulcan 20 mm gun, but from the Ukrainian point of view, an essential feature of the F-16 is its ability to carry various types of mounted weapons.

It has already been confirmed that the F-16s prepared for Ukraine by Belgium are compatible, among other things, with AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. These are air-to-air missiles with an active radar guidance system. Depending on the version, their range varies from approximately 97 km (60 miles) to 161 km (100 miles).

Jarosław Wolski also pointed out how time-consuming and demanding training is for pilots intended to operate the F-16s. Although there were reports from the West that Ukrainians are doing very well, they "will be after an extremely short learning period." Consequently, for the defenders' army, possible losses associated with the fighters and pilots can be very painful.

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