Ukraine Is Finally Getting F-16s, But Not Until Next Year

F-16 Ukraine

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F-16 Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stroll close to an F-16, in Eindhoven, Netherlands, August 20, 2023. (Picture credit: REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw)

Here’s what we all know to this point in regards to the F-16s that shall be donated to Ukraine, the coaching of pilots and maintainers and the timeline of the deliveries.

In the previous few days, we witnessed a media frenzy round over the donation of F-16s to Ukraine to assist the nation repel the Russian invasion that has been happening since February 2022. In reality, throughout a go to by Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy on August 20, 2023, the Netherlands and Denmark introduced they will supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Ukraine has long sought the US-made fighters to attain the air superiority in opposition to the Russians in the course of the counter offensive. This has been one of many sizzling subjects for about one yr now nevertheless, as a rule, information about this had been unsubstantiated or simply rumors. Now, the switch has been made official, though particulars had been scarce. Extra particulars emerged within the following days, however let’s proceed with order.

On August 17, america authorised the switch of the F-16s from Denmark and the Netherlands to Ukraine as soon as pilot training is completed. The Danish protection ministry confirmed that the coaching would begin this month in Denmark, run by a coalition of 11 international locations. A month in the past, Denmark stated that the primary outcomes of the coaching are anticipated in early 2024, and this was additionally confirmed by Ukrainian Air Power spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat who stated in an interview that the nation wouldn’t function F-16s this coming autumn and winter.

On August 18, Gen. James B. Hecker, commander of U.S. Air Forces Europe and Air Forces-Africa, additionally confirmed Ukraine won’t get a basic F-16 capability until at least 2024. The Common additionally warned that the F-16s received’t be a “silver bullet” and it’ll take years to construct proficiency for pilots and maintainers. “What the F-16 will give them is, it’s going to be extra interoperable with the present weapons that we’re giving them now,” stated Gen. Hecker. “Proper now, weapons that we’re giving them should be tailored to go on the MiG-29 or go on the Su-27, or one thing like that.”

On August 19, Zelenskiy visited Sweden, the place the opportunity of transferring a few of the nation’s Gripen fighters has been mentioned. Sweden beforehand stated it would allow Ukrainian pilots to test the Gripen, however the plane are nonetheless wanted to guard Swedish territory. On the identical day, Ukrainian defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov stated that coaching of Ukrainian F-16s pilot had begun and it’ll take at the least six months to finish, whereas it’s not identified how lengthy it could take to coach engineers and mechanics.

The minister didn’t give particulars in regards to the location of the coaching, and the few particulars emerged later usually are not very clear. Officers of the 11-country coalition stated that coaching shall be carried out in Denmark and Romania. Common Mykola Oleshchuk, Commander of the Ukrainian Air Power, stated that pilots of the class of 2016, who’ve already fight expertise, are being educated in Sweden, whereas pilot of the category of 2023, are being educated within the UK. The latter ought to be those talked about by Gen. Hecker, who stated that the cadre present process coaching on the F-16 could be very junior and with “barely have any hours in any respect.”

File photograph of Danish F-16s. (Picture: Danish MoD)

At the moment, it seems that solely eight of the pilots chosen are sufficiently proficient in English to start coaching, whereas others are present process English language coaching within the UK. This was confirmed by each Gen. Hecker and minister Reznikov. Gen. Hecker additionally talked about that the pilots, after the language coaching, ”are going to get a bit bit extra coaching on propellers, after which go right down to France and fly in the Alpha Jet for a little bit.“

On August 20, as we talked about within the opening of the article, the Netherlands and Denmark introduced the switch of their F-16s, which are within the means of being replaced by the F-35, to Ukraine. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen stated that Denmark will switch 19 of their 43 F-16s, with the primary six as a consequence of be delivered round new yr, adopted by eight in 2024 and 5 in 2025. As for the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte stated the nation has 42 F-16s obtainable however has but to resolve whether or not all of them shall be donated.

On August 21, president Zelenskiy stated after assembly Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that Greece can even participate in coaching of Ukrainian F-16 pilots. On the identical day, he additionally visited Denmark to thank the nation for its donation, saying that the promised deliveries of F-16s made him assured Ukraine could end Russia’s invasion. Danish Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen identified that the F-16s are for use solely inside Ukrainian territory: “We donate weapons beneath the situation that they’re used to drive the enemy out of the territory of Ukraine. And no additional than that. These are the circumstances, whether or not it’s tanks, fighter planes or one thing else.”

Lastly, on August 22, the Danish armed forces introduced that the coaching of the primary six Ukrainian F-16 pilots has begun. The pilots arrived at Skrydstrup air base together with 65 personnel who shall be educated in sustaining and servicing the jets. No different particulars had been supplied in regards to the size of the coaching. Primarily based on the beforehand launched information by Denmark and different officers, the primary pilots are anticipated to graduate in early 2024 after at least six months of training. Which means we should always count on to see Ukrainian pilots flying F-16s over Ukraine not sooner than February 2024, though they are going to have solely a restricted fight readiness and far will stay to be seen.

Stefano D’Urso is a contract journalist and contributor to TheAviationist primarily based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he is additionally finding out to attain a Grasp Diploma in Aerospace Engineering. Digital Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT strategies utilized to the world of army operations and present conflicts are amongst his areas of experience.



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