Ukraine needs AWACS to support F-16s: Ukrainian pilot shares why
Airborne radar aircraft could expand the effectiveness of Ukraine's future F-16 fighters, but how critical are these jets to the Ukrainian military?
Ukrainian pilots have already begun the long-awaited training on the US F-16 fighter jets and are about to start their first flights with instructors on these aircraft, Defense Express reminds.
Today, three countries have already agreed to give their F-16 fighters to Ukraine. While the other aircraft that could expand the capabilities of these jets on the battlefield is the AWACS (Airborne early Warning and Control System), also known as long-range radar detection.
Earlier, Defense Express examined in detail the issue of equipping the Ukrainian Air Force with airborne surveillance aircraft that Ukraine could receive without the threat of "escalation". Among the candidates that would be necessary for our army are such airdcraft as the E-2 Hawkeye from Northrop Grumman or GlobalEye from Swedish Saab. As an example, it can be mentioned that Poland purchased two used Saab 340 AEW airborne surveillance aircraft for a modest $58 million.
At the same time, the opinions of Ukrainian pilots, especially those who are currently training on F-16s, are also interesting in this context: how critical is the need for an airborne surveillance aircraft today, given that Ukraine is to receive American fighters next year.
"They [airborne surveillance aircraft] would be desirable, of course. In general, the whole system of Western air power is built on interaction with the AWACS. But even without them, with the means we have, we will be able to perform tasks with much greater efficiency [with F-16s] than we currently have the ability to do," notes a Ukrainian pilot with the call sign Moonfish, who is currently learning to fly an F-16.
It would also be appropriate to mention here that NATO AWACS aircraft conduct constant reconnaissance of Ukraine's airspace, and it is publicly known that this information is shared with the Ukrainian Armed Forces online.
For example, back in October 2022, a unique video was released of an E-3 Sentry airborne surveillance aircraft on patrol, showing the aircraft's operators and pilots assisting Ukraine’s Air Force.