Russia Would Ruin F-16’s Reputation by Destroying Jets Sent to Kiev

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russia, ukraine, f-16, fighter jet, delivery, supply, analysis

russia, ukraine, f-16, fighter jet, delivery, supply, analysis

Kiev is hoping to receive several dozen F-16 fighter jets from its NATO ‘partners’ following Washington’s approval of the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly the planes. Moscow has vowed to account for the deployment of F-16s into its military strategy, and warned that such an “escalation scenario” carries “enormous risks” for the West.

The F-16 – America’s workhorse fourth-generation multi-role fighter, would suffer a serious blow to its reputation if the planes are sent to Ukraine and destroyed at their airfields or downed in air-to-air combat by Russian jets.

That’s according to a fresh analysis of an independent military news portal, which cites Washington’s previously-expressed reluctance to allow allies like the Netherlands and Norway to supply older F-16s to Ukraine as a sign that the US officials recognize that “the United States would be bearing the primary risk” from their deployment.

“Not only is there a possibility that the fighter or its technologies could fall into Russian hands, as other Western equipment has in considerable quantities, but there is also a much greater chance that the fighters could suffer significant losses both to strikes on their airfields and in air-to-air combat which would be a major blow to the F-16’s reputation,” the portal noted.

Pointing to the F-16’s increasingly outdated status against peer competitors, the outlet stressed that in fighting against Russian air power, there would be a “very high possibility that the class [of fighters] would have only very limited survivability due to its lack of stealth capabilities and limited ability to engage top end heavyweight aircraft in the Russian fleet,” including the Su-35, the MiG-31 and the Su-57. Deployment to Ukraine would also mean vulnerability to Russian long-range surface-to-air missiles.

The portal pointed out that the US military-industrial complex has already suffered one major reputational blow this week following Tuesday’s successful attack against Patriot missile defense system by Russia’s Kinzhal hypersonic missiles.

The analysis noted that while upgraded Block 70/72 F-16s could “potentially hold [their] own” against Russia’s fighters, less than two dozen of the planes have been built, and their $120 million+ apiece cost likely makes them prohibitively expensive to deploy to Ukraine, with Lockheed Martin preferring to sell them to buyers in Asia and the Middle East.

The outlet’s concerns echo those of former US Air Force pilot-turned Heritage Foundation research fellow John Venable, who warned earlier this month that the F-16s would be “completely outmatched” in a high-threat environment like Ukraine, and that Russia’s S-400 air defense systems would be able to lock onto the jets before they ever had a chance to approach close enough to stage an attack.
Истребители ВВС Южной Кореи F15K и ВВС США F-16 на военных учениях  - Sputnik International, 1920, 20.05.2023

Biden OKs Training Ukrainians on F-16s But Timeline Remains Uncertain
President Biden admitted Sunday that the deployment of F-16s “would not have helped” Kiev defend the recently lost Donetsk city of Artemovsk (Bakhmut) “at all.” On Thursday, the US president informed his G7 counterparts that Washington would support a joint effort to train Ukrainian pilots to operate fourth-gen jets, including F-16s.
White House national security advisor Jake Sullivan declined to offer any details or a timetable on this training, or when jets could be delivered to Kiev. “Our view is that where the F-16 fits into the fight is not right now. So if we had it right now, this is not the main focus of what they need on the battlefield for this counteroffensive. So we feel like we will be in a position to give them what they need for that future force when they need it,” Sullivan told reporters Saturday.
Multiple US allies have indicated that they are not ready to part with their supplies of F-16s to give to Ukraine.

Variants of the F-16 have served as the backbone of the US Air Force and those of over two dozen other nations for over forty years, and saw extensive use as the fighters of choice in US and NATO wars of aggression in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as conflicts involving Israel, Pakistan, the Gulf countries, Morocco and Jordan.

Taiwanese F-16V fighter - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.05.2023

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