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Air superiority is key to success on the ground – Ukraine Air Forces spox

About 8-9 Russian fighters currently active in occupied areas, dropping bombs and launching missiles. F-16s would prevent this.
ukraine air force spokesman yuriy ihnat
Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman, Yuriy Ihnat/ Source: nv.ua
Air superiority is key to success on the ground – Ukraine Air Forces spox

Western fighter jets like the F-16 can reshape the dynamics on the battlefield, as aerial cover is paramount for ground operations, according to Ukraine’s Air Force Command. Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command, discussed the matter in an interview on Ukrainian telemarathon on August 21, writes Ukrainska Pravda.

Ihnat highlighted that currently, “around 8-9 Russian fighters are present on the occupied territories, dropping guided bombs and launching aviation missiles. With F-16, they won’t be able to do that… Air superiority is the key to success on the ground; we all must comprehend this.”

Ihnat affirmed, “The decision [regarding pilot training and provision of Western aircraft to Ukraine] is already made; we are awaiting their implementation. I truly said that (with F-16s) we will win the war. Not immediately, of course, but the F-16 is capable of changing the course of events, capable of providing us with what is needed most today – air superiority over occupied territories.”

Regarding Ukraine’s utilization of Western fighters, Ihnat mentioned, “We want Ukraine to start using Western aircraft as soon as possible, but the process is not simple.” He noted that Ukrainian airstrips have artificial concrete runways with seams between them. “If these runways are properly prepared, there are no problems,” he affirmed.

Ihnat clarified that F-16s were in Ukraine in 2012 during the Euro 2012 tournament, using the landing strips at Myrhorod Airport (Poltava Oblast). Ukrainian pilots trained alongside experienced airmen to operate them. The same principle applied in 2018 when pilots flew F-15s in Starokostyantyniv.

During wartime, Ihnat stressed the need for not only adapted and well-maintained runways but also for additional logistics and infrastructure to protect the aircraft against enemy attacks on the airbases.

He emphasized that numerous Ukrainian aircraft carry out daily missions, showcasing the proficiency of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in safeguarding personnel and equipment.

Ihnat revealed that Ukraine intends to receive not only American F-16s but also other Western fighters, including Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen. These aircraft will gradually replace outdated Soviet equipment. Western partners will not only train pilots but also the personnel supporting flight operations.

“The increase in various types of aircraft is a significant task: they require maintenance and repairs,” he explained. “But we have no other option. We are moving in that direction. Gradually, we will phase out old Soviet equipment from the Air Force inventory, replacing it with aircraft like the F-16, Gripen, and possibly others that become available to us,” Ihnat concluded.

  • On August 9, US President Joe Biden approved the training of Ukrainian military personnel on American F-16 fighter jets. Denmark and the Netherlands are overseeing the training process.
  • On August 18, the White House confirmed that the US would approve the provision of F-16 fighters to Ukraine following the completion of Ukrainian pilot training.
  • The Netherlands and Denmark have given the green light for the delivery of F-16 fighters to Ukraine after Ukrainian pilots finish their training.
  • Ukraine is set to receive 42 F-16 fighters from the Netherlands and 19 F-16 fighters from Denmark.

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