Date: 26 December 2023 Author: Szymon Polewka

Ukraine Is Waiting For First Batch of F-16

As 2024 approaches, the anticipation of the arrival of the first F-16 multirole fighters grows. The Kyiv government believes that Western jets will aid in securing air superiority and boosting morale, particularly following the setback of an unsuccessful counteroffensive.

SOURCE: PAP

The Ukrainian war narrative attributes the F-16 with the status of a ‘miraculous weapon’ believed to potentially shift the tide of the conflict in favor of Kyiv. It is worth noting that within the war message, there was already another perceived ‘miracle weapon’ represented by the multi-guided HIMARS rocket launcher. The government in Kyiv assumes that Western jets will have the ability to push Russian planes far from the front lines, effectively track radar transmitters, and intercept cruise missiles. Furthermore, the multitasking capabilities of the F-16 offer opportunities for effective support of frontline infantry in combat.

Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands have announced they will give F-16 jets to Ukraine. At present, the Netherlands is closest to finalizing the transfer of the equipment. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutter emphasized that the delivery of F-16s stands as one of the paramount commitments in terms of military support. Simultaneously, he emphasized that specific criteria, including personnel and infrastructure requirements, must be met before the aircraft can be delivered. Ukrainian pilots are now trained to fly F-16 fighter jets in training centers in NATO states, notably in a training site in Romania.

Despite the optimism surrounding the imminent fighter jet delivery, Ukraine’s Supreme Commander-in-Chief, Valery Zaluzhny, cautioned that the F-16s would be ‘less effective’ than anticipated a year ago, citing advancements in Russian air defenses. Nevertheless, these jets aim to address a longstanding issue since the invasion began: the dominance of modern Russian combat aircraft, notably the fifth-generation fighters (Su-57), which have proven challenging for Ukraine’s lower-generation equipment to counter.
 
References:

Frank Hofmann, Ukraina: F-16 zbliżają się do strefy działań wojennych, DW, November 10, 2023.

https://www.dw.com/pl/ukraina-f-16-zbli%C5%BCaj%C4%85-si%C4%99-to-zone-units%82a %C5%C5%84-war/a-67356689

Gerry Doyle, Mariano Zafra, The air war over Ukraine, Reuters, December 14, 2023. https://www.reuters.com/graphics/UKRAINE-CRISIS/FIGHTER-JETS/jnvwwqyylvw/

Jakub Ber, Holenderskie i duńskie F-16 dla Ukrainy. 544. dzień wojny, Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich, August 22, 2023. https://www.osw.waw.pl/pl/publikacje/analizy/2023-08-22/holenderskie-i-dunskie-f-16-dla-ukrainy-544-dzien-wojny

Stanislav Pohorilov, Ukraine might receive first batch of F-16s by end of year – ISW, Ukrainska Pravda, December 23, 2023. https://www.pravda.com.ua/eng/news/2023/12/23/7434280

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