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Ukraine Air Force: More to be done before Ukraine deploys F-16 fighter jets

International partners are ready to provide Ukraine with F-16 jets, yet Ukraine still continues to prepare infrastructure and train personnel for their deployment, acccording to Ukraine’s Air Force.
A Danish Air Force F-16BM combat trainer aircraft during a training flight. Photo via mil.in.ua
Ukraine Air Force: More to be done before Ukraine deploys F-16 fighter jets

International partners are ready to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, but preparations for their effective deployment are still in progress, including preparing infrastructure and training pilots and maintenance technicians. This was stated by Air Force Command spokesman Yurii Ihnat on Ukrainian TV on 25 January, as reported by Ukrinform.

Ukraine aims to use F-16 fighter jets to counter Russia’s air superiority at the frontline. The dense air defenses prevent Russian aircraft from operating behind lines in Ukraine-controlled territory, but they maintain an edge with longer-range radars and air-launched missiles and bombs. By deploying F-16s, which are superior to their current Soviet-era aircraft, Ukraine hopes to push Russian aircraft further from the front.

“Partners are ready to provide us with these capabilities. The question is whether everything is ready for their operation in Ukraine. Quite often we see all kinds of timelines or forecasts, coming from different countries or experts. It is clear that everything must be prepared, including pilots, infrastructure, and maintenance engineers, and also there are other factors that are not discussed as widely,” Ihnat said.

The spokesman stressed the need for a thorough strategy in introducing and utilizing new multi-purpose aircraft in Ukraine, particularly for combat. He highlighted the future key roles of the F-16s in Ukraine: attacking invaders, defending airspace, repelling enemy planes, and intercepting drones:

“Of course, you may see statements from European leaders that ‘we are ready to hand over the planes to you already’. ‘Hand over’ means that simply moving them to our territory. And this is not the option Ukraine needs. We need them to fly and engage the invaders from the air, protect our airspace, push Russia’s aircraft away from our borders, and intercept Shaded drones attacking our country during the night hours,” Ihnat added.

As Ukrainian aviators train to operate the F-16s in the EU and the US and Ukraine prepares land infrastructure for the fighter jets, experts speculate when the country can deploy the Western aircraft. The Ukrainian Air Force spokesman, however, often denies the suggested timelines.

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