Ukraine's Air Force explains why it sees no sense in delivering F-16s now
F-16 multi-purpose fighters should be delivered to Ukraine when the infrastructure, pilots and aviation engineers are ready
Yuriy Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force Command, told Radio Svoboda.
He noted that the Netherlands is ready to provide Ukraine with the aircraft, but the Air Force does not currently see such a need.
"What's the point of bringing the aircraft here to be in the enemy's sights? We need to wait until everything is 100% ready: the infrastructure, the pilots who are currently undergoing training with instructors, and the aviation engineering staff," Ihnat said.
"The engineers will not only maintain the aircraft, but also deal with weapons. We take an airplane to fight with it, not to keep it standing. Aircraft weapons require appropriate knowledge to adjust and strike with them," added the spokesman.
F-16 fighters for Ukraine: what is known
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.
On September 15, Belgium joined the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s. The Belgian Defense Ministry had previously said it would not provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters, but later the government suggested that several F-16s might be delivered to Ukraine next year. In 2024, the Netherlands plans to provide Ukraine with the first batch of F-16 fighters.
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.
At the same time, ISW noted that Ukraine is likely to receive the first batch of F-16 fighters by the end of 2023.