Ukraine could use F-16s to intercept aircraft over Russia, expert says
In the coming months, the allies will work to determine when, who, and how many F-16s will be delivered to Ukraine (Photo:REUTERS/Ann Wang)
Although the United States made it clear that heavy Western weapons are not to be used to attack Russian territory, Ukraine could still use F-16s to shoot down Russian aircraft over Russian territory, research fellow at Ukraine’s National Aviation University, Valeriy Romanenko, said in an interview with NV Radio on May 22.
“There would be problem with that; firstly, we weren't there (over Russian territory),” said Romanenko.
“Secondly, a damaged aircraft can glide a long distance. And thirdly, there are no problems hitting targets in the air; we're only talking about (restrictions on striking) ground targets on Russian territory.”
The expert added that Russian military aircraft carrying out missions to strike Ukraine would be "absolutely legitimate military targets," and "there will be no objections about this from our partners."
"But if we strike, for example, at an airfield in Belgorod or somewhere in the Krasnodar region, then they will say that we didn't agree on that," Romanenko cautions.
On May 19, UK PM Rishi Sunak announced that his country, along with the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark, will train Ukrainian pilots on Western aircraft.
During the recent G7 Summit in Japan, U.S. President Joe Biden announced Washington will support a joint international effort to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.
On May 23, EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, stated that Ukrainian pilots have already begun training on F-16 fighter jets.
How many aircraft Kyiv cane expect to receive, or when the transfer will happen, remains unclear, although Politico reported that Kyiv could receive the jets as early as this fall.
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