Ukraine won’t get F-16 fighters even in six months, says MP
F-16 of the Air Force of Taiwan (Photo:REUTERS/Ann Wang)
Ukraine will not receive the F-16 fighter jets from its partners even in six months, Serhiy Rakhmanin, a member of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, said in an interview with Radio NV on April 23.
“If even now ... there is a politically principled agreement on providing Ukraine with aircraft, e.g. multi-purpose F-16 fighter jets, if even it is agreed now, Ukraine won’t receive these aircraft either tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, or even in six months, because it requires training pilots, transferring aircraft, creating additional airfields, runways, (and) secure underground hangars where these planes could be hidden,” he said.
“That is, it’s not a matter of tomorrow.”
Rakhmanin said “even the experts argue” on how long it will take to transfer F-16s to Ukraine.
The Ukrainian MP said that the Americans claim that high-quality pilot training on F-16s should last 18 months. At the same time, he suggested that Ukrainian pilots could speed up the training process and complete it in a year.
The lawmaker added that F-16s “cannot be deployed on our existing airfields with runways” due to the lack of the required protections for them.
“Therefore, it’s necessary to prepare the infrastructure to protect these planes from missile strikes or possible sabotage,” Rakhmanin said.
“We need to prepare specific runways, we need to prepare protected hangars, we need to deploy additional airfields.”
He said that this issue was under consideration. At the same time, he added that he does not think “that there are clear deadlines that we’ll do it in three or five months.”
“This is a very important, difficult and complex issue,” he said.
“And no one is starting on its immediate solution now, as there is no political solution.”
Ukrainian pilots will need less than six months to master the F-16 fighter jets, Air Force spokesperson, Yuriy Ihnat, said on April 24.
Ukrainian Air Force commander, Gen. Serhiy Holubtsov, gave a similar assessment on March 20.
According to Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, a positive decision on the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine could come in a matter of one or two months.
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