Are F-16 fighter jets likely to soon be roaring over Kharkiv, or breaking the sound barrier while they tear through Zaporizhzhia’s skies?
Once it seemed impossible. But now? It might not be possible.
The Western world is looking to Germany to make a decision on Leopard 2 tanks. However, a more radical idea came from the Netherlands: send Western-made fighter aircrafts to Kyiv to be used by Ukrainian pilots.
According to media reports, the Dutch cabinet stated that it will investigate the possibility of supplying F-16 fighter aircrafts to Ukraine if requested by the Kyiv government.
Last week, Wopke Hoekstra, the foreign affairs minister, stated that the cabinet would consider such a request during a parliamentary debate.
What are F-16s, and how could they be used? What other weapons might Ukraine be able to donate in the next few months?
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The F-16 fighter jet is a highly maneuverable fighter jet that can reach speeds exceeding 1,200 mph.
The US claims that it can detect targets in any weather condition and detect low-flying aircraft within radar ground clutter.
The F-16 can fly over 500 miles in an air-to–surface role and deliver its payload with great accuracy. It can also defend itself against enemy planes, return to its original point, and return to its base.
The Netherlands, a NATO member, is one of many countries that fly F-16s as part its air force.
Sky News’ Philip Ingram, an ex-intelligence officer, says that it is likely that more Western military aircraft will be given to Ukraine.
He stated that the problem is that pilots cannot switch between aircraft, especially when they are engaged in live combat operations.
“But we’re seeing across the board with Ukrainians coming into and learning to operate Western equipment, it’s happening in weeks what it takes for Western pilots,” Mr Ingram said.
When asked about the psychological impact of an F-16 squadron piloted by Ukrainians, he replied that it would have a psychological impact on Russian forces.
He said that the Russian air force would be pushed back by a system they knew could outmatch them at every stage.
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The MiG-29, a Soviet-designed fighter aircraft, is being used by the Ukrainian Air Force as a multi-role fighter jet.
Many European countries now have stock of MiG-29s after the collapse and disintegration of Soviet Union. This includes Poland.
In March 2013, just weeks after the Russian invasion of Ukraine in full-scale, Poland offered to send its entire fleet, including MiG-29s, to Kyiv for F-16s.
The Pentagon stated at the time that the offer was not “tenable” and “raises serious concern for NATO alliance.”
In the months that followed, however, Ukraine has been able to mount hugely successful counterattacks. Many heavy weapons that were once considered out of the question – HIMARS or tanks, for instance – have been donated by Kyiv.
According to Mr Ingram, a potential problem for the Polish MiG-29s is their ability to run NATO communication systems. This would make it difficult to remove them from Russian control.
When asked about a timeline for F-16s, MiG-29s and other fixed-wing aircraft to be delivered to Ukraine, Ingram said that the next Ramstein meeting would take place in February. This meeting will focus on aviation.
ATACMS long range missiles
As they continue to strike targets far behind Russian lines, Ukraine has been long calling for longer-range and more powerful missile systems.
HIMARS was undoubtedly one of the most important developments in wartime and played an integral part in sustaining Ukraine’s counteroffensives.
The Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS), which can travel approximately 190 miles, would be a significant improvement on the HIMARS used in Ukraine, with a range that is only 50 miles.
Richard Blumenthal, along with two other US senators visited Kyiv last Wednesday and asked the Biden administration for supplies to Ukraine with tanks, artillery and ATACMS missile system systems as well as planes.
Blumenthal stated that while the United States should not send troops to Ukraine, it should give Ukraine whatever troops would receive if they were fighting on ground.