Ukraine Needs a Squadron of F-16s to Scare Away Russian Jets

  • Bureau
  • 03:29 PM, May 29, 2023
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Ukraine Needs a Squadron of F-16s to Scare Away Russian Jets
F-16C Fighting Falcon shoots AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile @U.S.A.F.

Ukraine wants to have a squadron of about 12-16 F-16 combat jets to regain dominance over its skies from Russia.

In an interview with Donbas Realia, Brigadier General Serhii Golubtsov of the Ukrainian Air Force explained how the F-16s would help the country in the ongoing war.

Experts told Golubtsov that F-16 was the best choice for Kyiv since it is mass-produced and more than two dozen countries operate it. “(This) aircraft is multi-role. It can perform air defense tasks, fight air targets, strike ground and surface targets…. The only thing that makes it inferior to the latest aircraft is stealth technology.”

He said Russian Air Force is operating Su-35 and MiG-31BM fighters that are capable of using a range of missiles such as R-77s (100km range) and R-37 missiles (200km).

“We do not have such an opportunity yet…. If we simply had a platform capable of using, for example, American AIM-120 (AMRAAM) air-to-air missiles with a range of about 180km, we would simply not allow them (Russian jets) to approach the borders at the launch distance of these missiles,” he added.

Russian aircraft also “actively use guided aerial bombs, and in addition, their planes create obstacles for the operation of anti-aircraft missile systems.”

“In order to use these aerial bombs, they (Russian jets) are forced to come to a distance of 40-45km. Sometimes they take risks, and in order for them to fly further, they approach a distance of even 30-35km,” he said.

“There are areas where we do not have enough anti-aircraft systems and they can do it with impunity. Where there is an opportunity, they are destroyed. They drag the aircraft back deep into their territory. In the presence of F-16 aircraft, we could simply prevent them from reaching these borders, they would refuse to use these bombs, because then they would fall on the heads of their own troops,” the official explained.

The F-16 “takes off from the airfield, from a distance of 100-150km, goes to the desired destination and waits there for the strike group that comes out for the task of striking, launches at them.”

When asked about how many F-16s Ukraine would require, Golubtsov says, “Even a pair of aircraft capable of launching a missile at a distance of more than 100km will already make the enemy think and react to it... We will hide them in the combat formations of the aircraft we have.”

“But if we speak seriously, in order to plan an operation to destroy or carry out strikes, it is necessary to understand that some echelon of support is still needed. To plan an operation from A to Z, I think it is worth talking about at least a squadron, at least 12-16 planes.”

If Ukraine has 3-4 F-16 squadrons, the official claims “we will be able to gain superiority in the air and force the enemy to completely abandon the strikes they are currently making in a certain area, on a certain defense lane.”

Golubtsov further stated that Lockheed Martin inspected Ukrainian airfields in 2021 and found three of them good enough to operate F-16s. “It was concluded that the runways and taxiways are perfectly suitable for the normal operation of F-16 aircraft….. In our country, everything is designed for Soviet-made aircraft, so we need to improve logistics issues, storage issues, and aircraft maintenance issues. And the experts had no particular complaints about the runways themselves.”

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