Ukraine ‘needs up to 200 multipurpose aircraft, F-16 most likely candidate to replace Soviet-era jets’
F-16 fighter jet (Photo:Ricardo Laurentino/flickr.com)
Ukraine for its defense needs to replace obsolete Soviet warplanes of various types with a single multipurpose fighter, perhaps the F-16, Air Force Command spokesman Yuriy Ihnat told French TV channel La Chaîne Info, NV’s sister publication UkrainskaPravda reported on Jan. 31.
“It is necessary to create up to five brigades of tactical aviation with one type of multi-purpose aircraft of Western design,” Ihnat said.
“What type it will be is being determined at the moment (...) It is clear that we will not be able to get everything at once, but a phased transition to a new multi-purpose aircraft is a requirement of time.”
“Currently, the F-16 is the most likely candidate to replace the old Soviet aircraft, because there are certain objective reasons for this. And this is not a one-man decision, there are ongoing consultations with (Ukraine’s) partners,” Ihnat added.
He said Ukraine needs up to 200 multipurpose aircraft for its defense.
Ihnat noted that the F-16 has a wide range of means of attack: it can strike both ground targets (ammunition and fuel and lubricant warehouses, fortified areas, armored vehicles) and hit all types of air targets (missiles, airplanes, helicopters and kamikaze drones).
Gaining superiority in the air will make it possible to successfully conduct ground operations, including the deoccupation of Ukrainian territories, Ihnat said.
Regarding the possible terms of delivery of the F-16, he stated that the decision must first be made at the highest level, so it was not possible to make predictions now, but he assured that the pilots and other specialists are ready for training, and the relevant departments are already engaged in the adaptation of the infrastructure.
Earlier, U.S. news website Politico reported that European countries are discussing the supply of fighter jets to Ukraine after the decision to hand over tanks, but some NATO countries fear a possible escalation.
The Netherlands has already announced its readiness to consider the provision of its F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has called coordination with NATO a condition for the transfer of jet fighters.
U.S. company Lockheed Martin reported that it is ready to supply its F-16s to countries that will transfer the planes to Ukraine.
French President Emmanuel Macron, responding to a question about possible deliveries of fighter jets to Ukraine, said that “in principle, nothing is prohibited.”
Meanwhile, he added that military aid to Ukraine should not be “escalating” and “weaken the French army.”
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