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Achieving parity with Russia: What F-16 needs, explained by aviation expert

20 March, 2024 Wednesday
10:38

Valery Romanenko, an aviation expert and leading researcher at the Ukraine State Aviation Museum, emphasized that while a significant number of F-16 aircraft is essential to match Russia's air power, the crucial factor is not sheer quantity

Romanenko shared his insights during an interview on Espreso TV.

"To achieve parity with Russia in the air, acquiring a substantial fleet of F-16s is crucial. However, the primary consideration is not merely the quantity but the weaponry and radio-electronic systems installed on the F-16s. The effectiveness of radars, onboard defense systems, and the types of missiles deployed are pivotal factors. With state-of-the-art equipment that outmatches Russian capabilities, even a fleet of 50 F-16s would suffice. Outdated weaponry and systems, regardless of the number of aircraft, would bring no gains in air superiority. We'd only marginally improve our ability to intercept cruise missiles by 10%," Romanenko explained.

The aviation expert also highlighted that Western leaders impose no restrictions on the use of air-to-air weapons.

"While there are constraints on employing air-to-ground and ground-to-ground strike weapons carrying explosives, there are no such limitations on air-to-air weapons. For instance, reconnaissance flights to Moscow using Western aircraft are okay. However, if the explosives are onboard, it is prohibited. The focus here is on air-based weaponry. With enhanced radars and missiles boasting a 150 km range, we'd be on par with Russian air capabilities and even surpass them in missile range. Conversely, if equipped with missiles featuring a 90 km range, we'd lag behind the Russians in all aspects. So, superior weaponry translates to superior outcomes," Romanenko emphasized.

F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine

On May 21, US President Joe Biden approved the training of Ukrainians on F-16s. Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured that Ukraine would not use these aircraft to strike at Russian territory. 

Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says that the first F-16 fighter jets are likely to fly in Ukraine's skies by the end of March 2024.

On August 17, the United States approved the shipment of F-16 multi-role fighters to Ukraine.

At the same time, Denmark said it would supply Ukraine with the aircraft if they were not used in Russia. 

The Netherlands will provide 42 fighter jets. At the same time, Norway will provide Ukraine with F-16s, but the exact number is unknown.

On September 15, Belgium joined the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s. Earlier, the Belgian Defense Ministry said it would not provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters because they are outdated and in poor condition. Such aircraft are dangerous to operate.

On October 11, Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said that the country would be able to deliver the first F-16s to Ukraine in March-April 2024.

On October 12, the media reported that the Netherlands would send F-16s to Romania, where Ukrainian pilots would begin training in a few weeks.

On October 26, Ukrainian pilots began flight training on F-16s at an air base in Arizona, USA.

On November 1, the Pentagon said that the training in Arizona could last from 5 to 9 months.

In early January 2024, Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder said that Ukrainian pilots would complete training on F-16 fighter jets this year.

On February 8, the ambassador to the Netherlands Oleksandr Karasevych said that Ukraine will receive F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands already this year, but the exact date has not been announced.

On February 17, during the Munich Security Conference, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the transfer of F-16 multi-purpose fighter jets to Ukraine is on schedule.

On February 21, it was reported that the first group of four Ukrainian pilots plans to complete training on F-16 fighters by the summer of 2024.

On March 18, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis approved the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, which will take place at the country's military base in Fetești.

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