The United States recently allowed Denmark and the Netherlands to deliver F-16 fighters to Ukraine. The two allies agreed to send the fighters after Washington assured them of an expedited transfer process to Ukraine after training the pilots.
The U.S. approved the move after months of debates and quiet talks. Russian officials feared the decision would escalate tension between the two countries, but Ukraine finds F-16 fighter jets necessary to foster security. The Netherlands agreed to deliver 42 F-16 fighters, while Denmark pledged 19 aircraft.
What is the F-16 Fighter Jet?
The F-16 fighter jet is a modern multi-purpose warplane. It’s one of the most versatile performers because it can be produced in large numbers for different missions. The F-16 is one of the few pieces of weaponry made in masses in the 1970s with parts from reliable aircraft hardware suppliers in the U.S. The idea was to export the jets to allies as affordable, general-purpose jets.
A closer look at the F-16 fighter jet shows that it’s more of a weapon system than a weapon. Unlike most air defense missiles fired by ground-based air defense forces, the plane provides a large air cover The jet is also highly mobile, shooting down cruise missiles sent in the air.
Why Ukraine Needs F-16 Fighters
Ukraine has appealed for the F-16 fighters for a long time in a bid to improve its combative capacity against Russia. The country’s old Soviet-era combat planes have forced Ukraine to go into waves of ground assaults, which haven’t been as effective.
Although it recently released a counteroffensive against Russia’s Kremlin’s forces, the lack of air cover leaves Ukrainian troops prone to attacks from Russian fighter jets. The F-16 can perform air-to-ground and air-to-air operations, hence an effective aerial support for advancing troops.
When Will the F-16 be Delivered to Ukraine
At the moment, the timelines of delivery remain unclear because Ukrainian pilots need training. Fighter pilots need extensive training to undertake close combat in case all the missiles are fired simultaneously.
Although some Ukrainian pilots are already training, the language barrier makes the task even more challenging. After submitting the names of pilots undergoing training, the U.S. officials realized that half needed English training to read and understand the manuals. Engineers and mechanics also need training.
Moreover, the beginning of the training program was repeatedly delayed due to a lack of formal approval by the U.S. The officials were concerned about losing F-16s on territories controlled by Russia, delaying the approval process even further.
However, their concerns have since subsided following months of lengthy talks with Ukraine, citing F-16’s vital role in fostering Ukraine’s long-term security strategies. This means the Ukrainian Air Force will likely begin using the F-16 Fighter jets next summer.
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