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Ukraine needs F-16s for successful counteroffensive - Austrian General Staff

13 February, 2024 Tuesday
20:05

The fighting in the Zaporizhzhia region has clearly demonstrated the importance of gaining air superiority where assault units are advancing. Ukraine needs F-16 aircraft

Deputy Chief of the Austrian Armed Forces’ General Staff, Major General Günter Hofbauer, said this in a comment to Ukrinform.

"I assume that it is relatively difficult for both sides to resume maneuvers, i.e., to advance in this war. In my opinion, a lot depends on the support of the West, but also on Ukraine itself and its population, on what goals it sets in the war. I think that 2024 will be very difficult in this regard," he said.

Answering a question about Ukraine's need for fighter jets, the general said that without air cover, "hardly anything is possible.”

"I think that if the pilots are well trained and there are enough combat aircraft, this maneuver war can start again. Without sufficient power in the sky, it will be difficult," said the Austrian Deputy Chief of Staff.

He also noted that the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine was a "shock" for both the Austrian population and the political leadership of the republic. According to him, despite all the preparatory measures taken by Russia, there was no expectation that "it would happen in such a way and with such brutality.”

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. 

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 Earlier, the Belgian Defense Ministry said it would not provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters because they are outdated and in poor condition.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.

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