Aircraft coalition? Ukraine relies on 50 F-16s from the West
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent visits to Italy, Germany, France, and Britain were aimed at persuading the partners to supply Kyiv with US F-16 multi-role aircraft. According to the Politico portal, the authorities in Kyiv rely on 40-50 such machines.
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Zelensky’s diplomatic tour in the countries of Western Europe, which took place from Saturday to Monday, was mainly aimed at building an “aircraft coalition” on the model of the earlier “tank coalition”.
The Ukrainian president intends to raise this topic at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, on May 19-21, as well as at the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, Yuri Sak, adviser to the Ukrainian minister, revealed in a statement on defense.
The representative of the government in Kyiv added that the authorities in Rome, Berlin, Paris, and London will not offer Ukraine their F-16 machines, but “their voice is important in the context of the creation of an international coalition”, including encouraging participation in this project, among others. I.e. the encouragement of the US and Turkey.
Ukraine would like to establish three or four squadrons of F-16 jets to defend itself more effectively against Russian attacks. The need to obtain modern fighters and integrate them into the Ukrainian air defense system became a necessity in March when the Russian military began using guided bombs on a large scale. This allows the enemy to strike more distant targets in Ukraine, and Kyiv currently does not have the means to counter this threat.
On May 11, the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Alexey Danilov announced that the Western allies would “soon” hand over F-16s to Kyiv. “Believe that we will get these machines. F-16s will be in Ukrainian skies, they will protect our country. It’s only a matter of time,” Danailov said.
The government in Kyiv is calling on Western partners to hand over fighter jets from February 2022, i.e. the start of the war with Russia. In March, the authorities of Poland and Slovakia announced that they would deliver a total of 17 MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Some of the machines donated by the Slovak side will probably serve as a source of spare parts.
The United States regularly denies reports of the possible availability of F-16 aircraft in Ukraine. The delivery of even more advanced fifth-generation machines, such as the F-35, is unlikely, according to most experts.
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