Where will F-16s take off from if Russia destroys their facilities

On the night of May 30-31, a series of precision attacks by the Russian army targeted various locations in Ukraine, resulting in significant losses for the Ukrainian forces. According to reports, these late-night strikes included an assault on the Staro Konstantinovsky shooting range, which inflicted substantial damage on NATO military instructors and Western equipment stationed there. 

Ukraine allegedly loses MR-18 radar for detecting stealth aircraft
Video screenshot

In addition, the Russian military launched a missile strike on a substation in the city of Konstantinov. The missile hit its mark, causing a loud explosion and knocking out power across the entire city. 

Moreover, the Russian forces targeted an airfield used by Ukraine to host F-16 fighter jets, as well as a warehouse storing US-made ATACMS tactical missiles, further intensifying the situation.

M39A1 ATACMS for Ukraine are officially expired but still usable
Photo credit: Medium

The Ukraine’s bet

Ukraine has always dreamed of deploying F-16 fighter jets, but the Russian military has fiercely resisted this idea. Retired Russian Colonel Viktor Litovkin once warned that if Ukraine constructs airfields and support facilities for Western-supplied F-16s, the Russian military will target and destroy those facilities. He added that Russia would vigilantly wait until the construction is sufficiently advanced to launch its attacks. 

Aware of this threat, Ukraine decided to take the risk. They invested substantial resources into building the necessary infrastructure—airports, radar stations, pre-flight training, maintenance equipment, aviation fuel purification, and missile storage facilities. Now, as the Russian military follows through on its warnings, Ukraine faces significant peril and may see its bold gamble backfire.

Russian Lancet flew 70 km and damaged a Ukrainian MiG-29 fighter
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ATACMS warehouse destroyed

What’s particularly concerning for Ukraine is that their U.S.-supplied ATACMS missile depot wasn’t spared in recent attacks. These missiles had been instrumental in striking Russia’s Type 22800 Tornado missile ship and taking out a range of Russian military equipment, including an S-300 launch vehicle, multiple S-400 launch vehicles, and several radars. 

The Ukrainian military had strategic plans to leverage these ATACMS tactical missiles against Russian forces. However, within just a few days, their warehouse came under fire. According to reports from Chinese media outlet Sohu, the Russian army discovered the depot and launched two consecutive attacks. 

US-supplied to Ukraine ATACMS M39 Block I destroyed a Russian S-400
Photo credit: Telegram

Now, there’s a growing sense of bewilderment within the Ukrainian ranks, as they’re left questioning how the Russian military’s intelligence capabilities have seemingly improved overnight.

The use of commercial satellites

According to recent analyses, it’s believed that a commercial satellite company may have supplied high-resolution satellite images to the Russian military. 

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Photo credit: SpaceKnow

Modern commercial remote sensing satellites can easily provide images with a resolution better than one meter, making the entire battlefield appear almost like a 3D image. This technology allows the Russian army to gain a nearly comprehensive understanding of the entire battlefield situation.

A nuclear weapon

NATO has long expressed concerns that pressing Russia too hard could provoke Moscow into deploying its nuclear arsenal, a fear that is especially poignant among Western nations, including the United States. 

Russian Navy acquired a Borei-class nuclear sub Project 955A
Photo credit: TOF

Despite their firm stance on reserving the right to use nuclear weapons in extreme situations, the Russian military has shown a preference for more cost-effective combat strategies. These currently include the use of mines and drones targeting Western tanks, and high-speed missiles aimed at airfields, supplemented by satellite intelligence. 

Instead of engaging the Ukrainian forces head-on, the Russian strategy leans towards launching decisive strikes on multiple smaller units of the Ukrainian army. This approach not only minimizes Russia’s own casualties but also cuts operational costs, making it a highly favorable tactic for Moscow.

A question no one asks

Syria tried to take down Turkish F-16 with Russian-made S-200
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Ukraine is set to receive at least 75 operationally ready F-16 fighters from its allies, with some sources suggesting that this number could be even higher. These combat aircraft are expected to play a pivotal role in Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion. In fact, given Denmark’s approval, F-16s might conduct strikes inside Russia. 

However there are lingering concerns about the arrival of these fighter jets in Ukraine. Imagine, for instance, that Russia has accurate intelligence on the locations of the newly constructed F-16 airstrips. Russia, known for its advanced space surveillance capabilities, might use this to its advantage. 

This raises a critical question: where will the Ukrainian F-16s take off from if Russian strikes successfully destroy the under-construction airstrips? We’ve witnessed numerous “red lines” being crossed, particularly by nations supporting Ukraine. Tanks were once forbidden, as were long-range missiles, Western intelligence, fighter jets, and even the use of Western weapons against targets within Russia. All these barriers have been breached. 

Denmark runs out of F-16 fighters, gives the rest to Ukraine
Photo credit: EPA-EFE/BO AMSTRUP

The next potential taboo could be allowing Ukrainian planes to take off from Romania, Poland, or the Baltic countries. If this happens, it might pave the way for the eventual deployment of Western ground combat units, further escalating the conflict. This scenario paints a portrait of a war where Western opposition to Russia continues to shatter previously held prohibitions, making peace seem like a distant concept.

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