First F-16s To Arrive In Ukraine ‘Within Weeks’ From West, But Will It Matter?

First F-16s To Arrive In Ukraine ‘Within Weeks’ From West, But Will It Matter?

A high-ranking UK military source has told London’s daily Evening Standard newspaper that F-16 fighters will be delivered by the Western allies to Ukraine “within weeks”. 

The official indicated that the aircraft are due to arrive by June, or at least July at the latest. The US previously authorized NATO countries to supply the US-made fighters to Kiev, at a moment Russia still controls the skies and has been degrading the country’s energy infrastructure via frequent attacks. Zelensky previously called the decision by the Biden administration “a breakthrough”. 

Even small NATO states like Denmark are reportedly involved in handing over a few of its F-16s. Others in the program include the Netherlands, Norway and Belgium. Some of the planes are currently reported to be at a training facility in Romania, as efforts to prepare Ukrainian pilots for aerial combat in the Western fighters appear in their final phases.

The Dutch especially are playing a big part, having committed to delivering a total of 24 F-16s for Ukraine’s armed forces.

But a big question remains at a moment it’s been widely acknowledged that Ukraine is losing the conflict: will the US-made fighter jets make an actual difference at this late stage where Moscow is clearly dominant? The Evening Standard bluntly admits the following:

But US officials have privately said the jets will not be a game changer when they eventually arrive after months of training, given the strength of the Russian air force and its defense systems.

So essentially, aircraft worth multiple tens of millions of dollars each are being primed to get shot down in what will likely prove a major humiliation for the West. 

Putin has already vowed that his forces will prioritize taking out Western-supplied fighter jets. In March, the Russian leader said during an address to pilots, “We will destroy their warplanes just as we destroy their tanks, armored vehicles and other equipment, including multiple rocket launchers.”

Significantly, he warned at the time that even bases in Western countries could be targeted if Ukraine flies sorties from them. “Of course, if they are used from airfields of third countries, they become a legitimate target for us, wherever they are located,” Putin had said.

Beginning last summer the Kremlin began highlighting that F-16 fighter jets are capable of carrying tactical nukes which are in select NATO countries’ possession. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov for example at that time explained, “Moscow can’t ignore the nuclear capability of US-designed F-16 fighter jets that may be supplied to Ukraine by its Western backers. He went so far as to say that it will be seen as a threat from the West “in the nuclear domain.”