Despite lack of trained pilots to fly them, Ukraine set to receive two dozen U.S.-made F-16s

by WorldTribune Staff / 247 Real News July 2, 2024

In the next month, Ukraine will reportedly receive two dozen U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands even though Ukrainian officials have said Kyiv will only have 20 pilots trained to fly them by the end of this year.

The Netherlands will soon send some of its F-16s to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Russia will have even more time to prepare its defenses to try to nullify the impact of Ukraine getting the F-16s.

“You’d have to separate symbolism from the actual impact on the battlefield — which will be useful but modest, particularly in the beginning,” Reuters cited Mark Cancian, senior adviser with the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), as saying in a June 27 report.

The F-16s are part of a package of 80 of the fighter jets pledged to Ukraine from Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium with the approval of the Biden Administration.

Lawmaker Oleksandra Ustinova, who leads Kyiv’s parliamentary commission on arms and munitions, said that Ukraine would need nearer to 120 F-16s to boost its air capability significantly.

“It is difficult to solicit more planes when you don’t have people to pilot them,” Ustinova said, adding that, at first, Ukraine will have more F-16s than qualified pilots. “Waiting in line for 10 years before our pilots are trained is not OK.”

Justin Bronk, senior research fellow for airpower and technology at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told Reuters: “You can have lots of fast jets but if they don’t have effective weapons, and air crew able to employ them with effective tactics, then they will just be shot down in large numbers.”

Russia has already intensified its attacks on infrastructure that could be used for the maintenance and deployment of the F-16s.

“Russia is striking all airfields, potential F-16 bases, every day, including attempts to damage airstrips and infrastructure. These strikes have not paused for the last two months, at least,” said Serhii Kuzan, chairman of the Ukrainian Security and Cooperation Center, a non-governmental research group.

Officials have not revealed where the F-16s will be based in Ukraine, but Russia said after a strike on an important air base in the western Ukraine city of Starokostiantyniv last Thursday that it had targeted airfields it believed would house them.

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