Russia is ‘dreaming’ of the F-16C, which allegedly ‘hit’ Kherson

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Reports are emerging from different Russian media outlets [social media accounts too] about an alleged attack on Russian forces in the temporarily seized section of the Kherson region. The stories suggest that the attack was orchestrated by an F-16C aircraft from the Romanian Air Force. 

Photo credit: USAF

This aircraft, it is alleged, launched its mission in the late-night hours of Saturday, January 27, 2024, from the 86th Air Force Base. According to the Russian narrative, this Romanian base is located near the city of Constanta. Their data indicates the strike happened at a specific time: 3:22 am. 

However, the narrative is far from complete, as Russian reports have yet to disclose the type of weaponry used in the alleged attack. It also remains a mystery how “the Romanian fighter” managed to bypass Russian air defense systems. 

The facts

On January 29, interesting information emerged from the Russians, which was swiftly debunked by the Ministry of Defense of Romania. Interestingly, a mere trio of straightforward points was enough to dispel the assertions made in the Russian press. 

The first mistake was geographical placement – the 86th air base of the Romanian Air Force is not located in the city of Constanta, but rather near the city of Borca. 

Photo credit: RNAF

The second point addresses equipment; the Romanian Air Force does not possess any F-16C modification aircraft. Instead, they utilize A/B modification F-16s, which have been upgraded to meet the MLU 5.2 and MLU 6.5 standards. Lastly, perhaps the most revealing point is that the alleged flight times provided by the Russians do not match any logged flights of Romania’s F-16 aircraft during the said period. 

Occasionally 

There are times when information is tough to validate, especially when it comes from non-verified sources. A recent instance involves data disseminated by some Russian media outlets in early November, citing the Russian think tank Rybar

Rybar reportedly stated that in the wee hours of November 3rd, two dismantled F-16s were shipped from Poland to Ukraine. They also claim that there’s been an exceptional wave of at least five dismantled F-16 aircraft arriving in Ukraine since the start of November, inclusive of the two F-16s delivered on November 3rd. 

Photo credit: Wikimedia

Rybar recently posted a shipping update on his new social media platform X, which used to be Twitter. He informed his followers that the “eagerly anticipated shipment has now landed”, alluding to the successful delivery of the two F-16s transported by truck. 

According to Ukraine 

Previously, verifying Rybar’s allegations was an uphill task. It still is, yet we now have more information about the Ukrainian F-16s than a year ago. We’ve learned, for instance, that the first group of Ukrainian pilots have completed their theoretical and language training in Britain, and are currently honing their skills on flying the F-16. 

YouTube screenshot

In addition, Ukraine, along with its Western allies, has recently confirmed its inability to accommodate the F-16s at this time. The reasons? A lack of both trained pilots and the necessary facilities to house the F-16s slated for donation. 

A slow process 

While seeing Ukraine’s first donated F-16s flying overhead will undoubtedly make news and represent a strong statement to the Russian military, the intricacies of this process are often overlooked by many ‘sources’. The process isn’t quick or straightforward. 

The transition of Ukrainian pilots from Soviet-Russian combat aircraft to F-16s is an extensive, time-consuming process. Moving from one avionic standard to another requires a significant investment of time. 

Beyond re-training pilots, Ukraine has the immense task of building the special infrastructure needed to accommodate the incoming F-16s. Accomplishing this in an environment of ongoing conflict adds another level of complexity and time to the undertaking.

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