F-16 fighter jets: What are they and could they be sent to help Ukraine? | World News

Can F-16 fighters soon scream over Kharkiv or break the sound barrier as they tear through the sky above Zaporizhzhia?

It used to seem impossible, but now? Maybe not.

Like the Western world looking forward to the German decision on the Leopard 2 . tankFrom the Netherlands, a possibly more radical idea was mooted: to send Western-made fighter jets to Kyiv for use by Ukrainian pilots.

The Dutch cabinet said it would consider supplying Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets if the Kiev government requested it, Dutch media reported.

During a parliamentary debate last week, foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said the cabinet would consider such a request with an “open spirit”.

So what are F-16s and what can they be used for? And what other weapons could be donated to Ukraine in the coming months?

F-16 aircraft drop flares during drills "Noble Sword-14" NATO's international tactical exercise at the ground forces training center in Oleszno, near Drawsko Pomorskie, northwest Poland, September 9, 2014.  About 1,700 troops from Croatia, Estonia, France, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Germany, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, the US, Turkey, Hungary, the UK and Italy are taking part in the three-week exercise. .  REUTERS/Kacper Pempel (Poland - Tags: MILITARY POLICY)
F-16 aircraft drop flares during NATO exercises in Poland

F-16 . Combat Falcon

As a highly maneuverable fighter, the F-16 is very maneuverable and can reach speeds of more than 1,200 mph.

The US says it can locate targets in all weather conditions and detect low-flying aircraft in radar clutter.

In the air-to-ground role, the F-16 can fly more than 500 miles, deliver payloads with precision, defend itself against enemy aircraft, and return to the starting point.

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Former senior security and intelligence officer Philip Ingram says Ukrainian troops face training burden as the West pledges to supply tanks

The Netherlands – a member of NATO – is one of a number of countries worldwide that use the F-16 as part of its air force.

“I think it’s likely that we will start to see more Western military aircraft being delivered to Ukraine – the Ukrainians need it,” former intelligence officer Philip Ingram told Sky News.

The difficulty, he said, is that pilots can’t switch from one plane to another – especially at the intensity of the combat operations.

“But what we’ve noticed about Ukrainians coming in and learning how to take over and operate Western equipment is that they’re doing in a few weeks what Western pilots would take months to do,” Ingram added. can do”.

When asked about the impact of a squadron of F-16s flown by Ukrainians, he said it would have a psychological impact on Russian forces.

“They’re up against a system that they know can overtake them at any stage,” he said, arguing that it would push Russia’s air operations further back.

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Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum multirole fighter of the Polish Air Force.
Polish MiG-29 fighter will be sent to Ukraine?

Mikoyan MiG-29

The Soviet-designed MiG-29 was used by the Ukrainian Air Force and served as a multirole fighter.

The collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union meant that several European countries had stockpiles of MiG-29s, including Poland.

In March of last year, just weeks after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland offers to supply the entire fleet of MiG-29s to Kiev in exchange for F-16s from the US.

At that time Pentagon says offer is not ‘executable’ and “causes serious concern to the NATO alliance”.

However, in the months since, Ukraine has carried out extremely successful counter-attacks and many of the heavy weapons once considered undisputed – such as HIMARS and tanks – have been donated to Kiev. .

One potential problem with Polish MiG-29s, Ingram said, is that they have been upgraded to run NATO communications systems that likely need to be scrapped to prevent them from falling into Russian hands. .

When asked about a possible time for the F-16, MiG-29 or other fixed-wing aircraft to arrive in Ukraine, Mr. Ingram pointed to the next meeting at Ramstein Air Base in mid-February, which is expected to take place. focus on the aviation sector.

In this image provided by the US Army, soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment of the 18th Field Artillery Brigade at Fort Bragg NC, conduct a live fire test at the Arrow Field White Sands, NM, on December 14, 2021, of early versions of the Army Tactical Missile System.  Ukraine's leaders are begging the United States and its Western allies to provide air defense systems and long-range weapons to keep up the momentum of a counter-offensive against Russia and counter growing Moscow attacks.  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says allies are committed to sending quickly as possible so we can get them there.... (John Hamilton/US Army via AP)
US Army soldiers test firing the ATACMS version. Photo: AP/White Sands . Missile Station

ATACMS . long-range missile

Ukraine has long called for more long-range missile systems as they continue to strike targets deep behind Russia’s defenses.

The arrival of the HIMARS missile system was arguably one of the biggest developments in the war and certainly played a huge role in bolstering Ukraine’s counterattacks.

With a range of about 190 miles the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) would be a step up from the HIMARS being used in Ukraine, which has a range of about 50 miles.

During a visit to Kyiv last week with two other US senators, Richard Blumenthal urged the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with tanks, artillery and ATACMS missile systems, as well as aircraft.

“We shouldn’t be sending American troops to Ukraine, but we should give Ukraine whatever we can give our troops if they’re fighting on the ground,” Blumenthal said.


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