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Ukrainian Air Force downs Russian planes, paving way for new F-16s, says Estonian military

11 March, 2024 Monday
15:00

The Ukrainian Air Force's recent success in shooting down or incapacitating several Russian aircraft is strategically positioning Kyiv for the deployment of incoming F-16 fighters from the West

This is according to Colonel Janek Lehiste, Chief of Staff of the Estonian Air Force, as reported by ERR.

Colonel Lehiste pointed out, "Definitely, it may be seen from the perspective that they are creating conditions for the deployment of their new aircraft. And maybe they are also creating conditions so that at a certain point in time and in a certain geographical area, it is possible to achieve air superiority, to support some ground operations or do something else."

He added that Ukraine could receive F-16 fighter jets in early spring or summer, emphasizing that minimal infrastructure changes are needed to accommodate them.

Colonel Lehiste highlighted the heightened activity on the front line and the shift of initiative towards Russian troops. He noted a change in Russia's tactics, employing air support to enhance the effectiveness of their advances.

"They have discovered that with air support, using aircraft, it's possible to multiply this effect because attack planes, dropping or launching half-ton bombs, can cause significant damage to defense lines," said Lehiste.

He pointed out the risk Russia is taking by flying closer to the combat line.

"Obviously, they are flying into air defense bubbles, and the result is visible, as Ukrainians have been able to shoot down about 13 aircraft during February," he noted.

Lehiste credited Ukraine's use of both long- and medium-range air defense systems, specifically citing the effectiveness of Patriot systems with a range of 150 km.

  • On February 23, Ukrainian Defense Forces downed a Russian A-50 long-range radar detection aircraft, revealing later that a Soviet S-200 air defense system was responsible for the interception.
     
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