What Is the F-16 Fighter Jet and Why Does Ukraine Need It?

What Is the F-16 Fighter Jet and Why Does Ukraine Need It?

British and Dutch plans to assist Ukraine get hold of F-16 fighter jets have put america and a few of its closest European allies at odds — but once more — over what weapons the West ought to ship Kyiv to defend towards Russia’s invasion.

Even when the Biden administration overcomes its long-held reluctance to provide Ukraine the American-made planes, the F-16 wouldn’t be utilized in fight for months on the earliest, officers and army analysts say. However with no finish to the struggle in sight, the F-16 has develop into the newest superior weapon that Ukraine and a few of its backers say it must stave off Russia — each within the present battle and for years to return.

Here’s a have a look at the F-16, why Ukraine desires it and why the Biden administration is hesitant to produce it.

First flown in 1976, the F-16 “Preventing Falcon” is a supersonic fighter jet utilized by militaries in 25 international locations for air-to-air fight and air-to-ground strikes. It has flown in American conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf and on homeland protection missions in U.S. airspace.

The F-16 is constructed by the American protection contractor Lockheed Martin and producers in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway — 4 international locations {that a} senior Ukrainian official says have quietly signaled they’re prepared to switch a few of their F-16s to Kyiv.

It’s extensively thought-about versatile, light-weight and cost-effective — with a price ticket of as much as $63 million, relying on the mannequin, in line with some estimates. There are roughly 3,000 at present in lively army service worldwide, together with a whole bunch within the U.S. Air Power and Navy.

The F-16 has each offensive and defensive capabilities. Within the brief time period, Ukrainian officers say, F-16s and different superior Western fighter jets are wanted to boost air defenses, with Kyiv’s current ground-launched methods being exhausted by frequent barrages of Russian missiles. The jets will be launched inside minutes and geared up to shoot down incoming missiles and enemy plane.

With out fashionable fighter jets, “no air protection system can be excellent,” President Volodymyr Zelensky informed European leaders gathered at a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, this week.

Past the present battle, many officers throughout Europe and in america consider the F-16 might be a key deterrent to future aggression towards Ukraine by Russia’s vastly superior air drive.

Coaching Ukraine’s pilots to fly Western jets will take months, and the Biden administration says it’s higher to ship weapons that may assist Ukraine in its coming counteroffensive towards Russia — a battle that many within the West hope can be a turning level within the struggle. A senior American official stated this week that the price of sending F-16s would take up a lot of an already dwindling pot of U.S. struggle funding.

At a Home listening to final month, Celeste A. Wallander, an assistant secretary of protection, stated that the administration was targeted on Ukraine’s army wants but in addition on what was sensible. “What do they require proper now, which is what we’ve been targeted on for the battles they’re dealing with,” she stated. “What can we ship that can be well timed and efficient?”

She stated that fashionable Western jet fighters, like F-16s, have been “about eighth on the listing” of priorities.

Most likely honest to excessive, in line with officers and army analysts. The Biden administration has beforehand stated no to a number of forms of superior weapons for Ukraine — together with HIMARS missile launchers, Abrams tanks and Patriot missiles — solely to reverse itself underneath stress from European allies and Congress.

Beneath what analysts describe because the largely doubtless situation, america would difficulty re-export licenses to different international locations which have F-16s, permitting them to switch their jets to Ukraine. Given the prices of every jet, it’s much less doubtless that america would ship its personal F-16s to Ukraine, although it isn’t not possible.

If Western allies intend to improve Ukraine’s aged Soviet-era air fleet with extra fashionable jets, giving the nation F-16s is “the more than likely final result,” stated Douglas Barrie, a army aerospace skilled on the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research in London.

He additionally stated it might be unlikely for Britain, with its “particular relationship” with America, to push forward with making an attempt to supply F-16s if the Biden administration was not a minimum of considerably on board. “It could be shocking, to place it mildly,” he stated.

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