Ukraine will buy F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets – forecast
KYIV, BM, ($1=27.20 Hryvnia) – Defense-Block reports that the American defense and space concern Lockheed Martin has offered Ukraine to buy the latest fighters of the 4th generation F-16 Block 70/72. Ukraine needs new fighters, as it currently operates old MiG-29 (35), Su-24 (18), Su-25 (13), and Su-27 (33). All but the Su-27 fighter jets are too old, out of date, and the deteriorating relationship between Kyiv and Moscow in recent decades means that the Su-27 will most likely be the last Russian fighter to be purchased.
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The price that Lockheed Martin offered Ukraine is not clear, as is the amount that Ukraine wants to buy. But in addition to the new F-16 Block 70/72, the company has also offered to sell second-hand F-16 fighters. At this stage, a press release from Lockheed Martin for a proposal to Ukraine is not available on the company’s website. However, the information is spread among various media related to the defense industry.
Most recently (April 2021 – ed.) the French portal opex360.com wrote that Paris is ready to join the competition for the renewal of Ukrainian aviation with modern fighter jets, and will most likely offer Kyiv the same two options – new fighters Rafale or second hand.
Analyzing the events of recent years, Israel and Sweden will be the next countries to offer Ukraine old F-16s (Israel) and new Gripen (Sweden), respectively. However, Israel may face a serious problem, as the United States once denied a license to Tel Aviv to resell the old Israeli F-16, and it is uncertain whether it will do the same now.
Ukraine will buy F-16s and that’s why
The chances of Ukraine buying the F-16 fighters from Lockheed Martin are high. I would assume in the range of 80-85% this to happen. Kyiv’s decision will be political and has nothing to do with the technical characteristics of the fighters.
Ukraine is a great opportunity for the United States to get even closer to Russia in Europe. The problem of “Crimea”, as well as the proclaimed republics of the Donbas and Luhansk region, is the problem of Ukraine with Russia. Ukraine does not have the technical, physical, and quantitative capabilities to wage war on the Russian Federation. In principle, and with co-supply of weapons from the United States, Ukraine still can not wage such a war.
It is the supply of American weapons and the granting of hundreds of millions of dollars in aid by the White House to Kyiv that are the “burden” that will tip the scales in favor of the F-16. Sooner or later, and this is a political move by Washington, Ukraine will have to return the favor to the United States. The most appropriate way and the first step is to order new fighters. Just like it happened in Bulgaria.
But the F-16 will be just the beginning. Ukraine will have to modernize its airports under Lockheed Martin conditions for the proper operation of the fighters. Donations from the United States on several boats, possibly armored vehicles, will follow at a later stage, which will open the door to a new US base in Ukraine. It will also be built with US money, but when that happens, Russia will have lost the opportunity to offer any weapon to the Ukrainian authorities in the future, even if we hypothetically assume that relations are improving.
Whoever enters a specific market is the first to dictate military policy in the coming years, unless it worsens relations with the host country. There are two examples of this in the world at the moment: India, whose military industry is based on Russian standards and continues to produce according to them, and Ukraine, whose relations with Russia have already been broken and are ready to change its way of production.
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