US: F-16 fighters donated to Kyiv will be deployed in Ukraine

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The F-16 fighter jets that the US plans to supply to Ukraine will be based directly on Ukrainian soil. This was confirmed by Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor to the US President. “The plan is to deploy the F-16s to Ukraine,” Sullivan mentioned in an interview with PBS. 

Photo credit: FAR

Sullivan highlighted the bilateral security agreement signed by US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He explained that the agreement reflects Washington’s commitment to assist Kyiv in obtaining these jets, emphasizing that they should be stationed in Nezalezhna.

Ukraine has long hoped to deploy F-16 fighter jets, a move that has met with staunch opposition from the Russian military. Retired Russian Colonel Viktor Litovkin has previously warned that if Ukraine constructs airfields and support facilities for these Western-supplied jets, the Russian military would target and destroy those facilities. He noted that Russia would carefully monitor construction progress to launch attacks at a critical juncture. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Aware of the looming threat, Ukraine decided to take a bold step. They invested heavily in building the necessary infrastructure, including airfields, radar stations, pre-flight training facilities, maintenance equipment, aviation fuel purification, and missile storage facilities. Now, with the Russian military following through on its warnings, Ukraine faces significant danger and the gamble may backfire.

Ukraine is poised to receive at least 75 operationally ready F-16 fighter jets from its allies, with some sources suggesting the number could even be higher. These warplanes are expected to play a pivotal role in defending Ukraine against a potential Russian invasion. In fact, with Denmark’s approval, F-16s could strike into Russia. 

However, there are ongoing concerns about the safe arrival of these fighters in Ukraine. Consider this scenario: what if Russia possessed accurate intelligence on the location of newly constructed F-16 airstrips? Given Russia’s advanced space surveillance capabilities, this could be a significant advantage.

Photo credit: RNAF

This raises a critical question: Where will Ukrainian F-16s take off from if Russian strikes successfully destroy the runways under construction? We’ve seen multiple “red lines” being crossed, especially by nations supporting Ukraine. Tanks were once off-limits, as were long-range missiles, Western intelligence, warplanes, and even the use of Western weapons against targets in Russia. Yet, all these barriers have been broken. 

The next potential taboo could be allowing Ukrainian aircraft 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 picture of a war in which Western opposition to Russia continues to break previous prohibitions, making peace seem like a distant goal.

BulgarianMilitary.com reports that a Russian company has offered a hefty reward for shooting down one of the anticipated Ukrainian F-16 fighter jets. Sergey Shmotyev, the director of the Ural company Fores, announced a reward of 15 million rubles [around $167,700] for the first downed F-16 fighter and 500,000 rubles [approximately $5,591] for each subsequent plane. 

Photo credit: EPA-EFE/BO AMSTRUP

Shmotyev noted that there were previous incentives for taking out tanks, with a bounty of 5 million rubles [$55,910] for the first tank and 500,000 rubles [$5,591] for each additional one. He added that more than 20 tanks are currently in line for their destruction reward.

Previously, during the G-7 meeting in Italy, U.S. President Joe Biden clarified that the U.S.-Ukraine security agreement does not include deploying U.S. troops to Ukraine. However, he reiterated that Washington’s stance on long-range strikes on Russian territory remains unchanged. 

Meanwhile, President Zelensky announced that the security agreement Kyiv will receive includes Patriot air defense systems and numerous fighter squadrons, including F-16 fighter jets. 

Photo credit: NATO

The Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow views the arrival of F-16s in Ukraine as potential carriers of nuclear weapons, citing their historical use in NATO’s “joint nuclear missions.” The Ministry labeled the transfer of these jets to Kyiv as a deliberate provocation by NATO and the United States.

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