Bipartisan support for Ukraine by the United States of America (which we wrote about here) is in action. The publication Politico reports that a group of lawmakers sent a letter to US President Joe Biden with a call to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. They believe that the planes will be able to ensure control over Ukrainian airspace this year.
Waiting for another shift of the «red lines»
The mentioned letter is an initiative by a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Maine Jared Golden, a member of the Democratic Party.
The petition was signed by Democrats Jason Crow and Chrissy Houlahan, as well as Republicans Tony Gonzales and Mike Gallagher. The letter specifically states:
«The provision of such aircraft is necessary to help Ukraine protect its airspace, particularly in light of renewed Russian offensives and considering the expected increase in large-scale combat operations.»
Legislators believe that modern fighters will provide the Armed Forces with more capabilities than ground artillery provided by the Allies:
«F-16s or similar fourth generation fighter aircraft would provide Ukraine with a highly mobile platform from which to target Russian air-to-air missiles and drones, to protect Ukrainian ground forces as they engage Russian troops, as well as to engage Russian fighters for contested air superiority».
Representatives of the Ukrainian military command have voiced a similar thesis many times before.
If on the penultimate day of January 2023, Joe Biden denied the possibility of sending F-16 jets to Ukraine, now the issue looks completely different. For example, according to Politico’s sources, NATO Commander in Europe Christopher Cavoli, in a closed meeting with more than ten congressmen, fully supported providing Ukraine with all the necessary weapons, including F-16s, to win the war.
Among the Western partner countries, the Netherlands was the first to declare that it is ready to consider the possibility of supplying Ukraine with American fighter jets under certain conditions. Such initiatives sometimes cause a chain reaction, as was the case in recent history with the provision of modern tanks to Ukraine.
Moreover, when it comes to supplying weapons to Ukraine, Western leaders usually say «no» in the context of «at the moment.» That is, depending on a certain situation, which in current conditions is extremely changeable. «No» does not deny the fact of negotiations on the provision of weapons, but only indicates that the issue has not yet been finally agreed upon. The Office of the President of Ukraine also says this.
Joe Biden’s visit to Kyiv on February 21, 2023 — on the eve of the anniversary of the full-scale invasion — clearly confirmed the unquestionable support of Ukraine from the US. Therefore, it makes no sense to deny the defense forces modern military aviation. And internal pressure, such as a letter from congressmen, should contribute to speeding up such decisions.
In addition to the political ones, there are a number of other problems with the delivery of the F-16. Among them, experts single out logistics, the training of Ukrainian pilots, the West’s fears of a sharp escalation along the NATO-RF lines, etc.
Volodymyr Fesenko, a Ukrainian political scientist and chairman of the board of the Center for Applied Political Research «Penta», said this in a comment to «Ukrainian View»:
«The main thing is that this issue is being considered. The same [Jake] Sullivan (President Biden’s adviser on national security issues — ed.) after returning from Kyiv avoided the question of discussing airplanes. This indicates that the issue is being resolved. The problem is another, where will these planes be based? They need a longer streak. At the airports in Poland? The West understands that Russia may perceive this as a direct military conflict with NATO, and this is a taboo for the same Germans and some other countries of the Alliance.»
Ukrainian military expert Dmytro Snegiryov echoes him:
«F-16 is the most massive fighter of the 4th generation. Recently, there was information that the US is going to decommission 47 F-16 fighters. A similar number would allow Ukraine to form 4 squadrons. It is worth noting that the F-16 is in service with 25 countries of the world. Why does the Ukrainian side insist on this particular plane? If fighter jets are transferred, then a similar tank aviation coalition will be created. That is, you can get a larger amount from different countries.
What are the problems? The first is logistics. In addition to the planes themselves, it is necessary to create repair bases in Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The second is the training of Ukrainian pilots. Different deadlines are mentioned, but it will not be fast. There is no treason, there are a number of issues regarding the composition of the army, which the Western countries are solving step by step.»
Technical features of the F-16
General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multifunctional light fighter. Designed as a day fighter for air superiority, it evolved into an all-weather multi-role aircraft. Has a number of modifications.
The fighter’s armament is a six-barreled General Electric M61-A-1 aircraft gun (6,000 rounds per minute, 511 rounds), up to six AIM-9L/M/P «Sidewinder» close-range guided missiles. In the fighter-bomber version, it can carry air-to-ground cruise missiles, as well as guided bombs with laser and optoelectronic guidance systems, conventional bombs Mk.82, Mk.83, and Mk.84.
The processes that are currently taking place in the US political system contribute to the acceleration of the supply of modern fighter jets and other weapons to Ukraine. Objective problems that exist are completely solved. The most important thing is that in the West, despite certain warnings, there is a political will to support Ukraine militarily.