Ukrainians May Fly F-16 With Wing & Prayer, But Won’t be Effective in Combat

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ukraine f-16, joe biden, nato weapons, ukrainian air force, f-16 training ukraine, f-16 jets ukraine, soviet-era mig jets, us military industrial complex, zelensky fighter coalition, russian air force, fourth generation fighters

ukraine f-16, joe biden, nato weapons, ukrainian air force, f-16 training ukraine, f-16 jets ukraine, soviet-era mig jets, us military industrial complex, zelensky fighter coalition, russian air force, fourth generation fighters

There are vested interests behind Washington green-lighting transfers of F-16s to Ukraine by its NATO allies, US military veteran, and foreign affairs and security analyst Mark Sleboda told Sputnik, adding that the move is more about politics than about military support.

After months of ambiguity, the Biden administration has given a nod to its allies to provide training and F-16 aircraft to the Kiev regime.
Washington’s change of heart followed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s European tour, during which he expressed hope of creating a “fighter jet coalition” in Ukraine. However, after the White House’s announcement concerning F-16s, Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley poured some cold water on Kiev’s joy by saying on May 24 that F-16s won’t act as a “magic weapon” for Ukraine.

“First of all, there are so many problems with the F-16,” Mark Sleboda told Sputnik. “One, it requires a kind of a Cadillac of the sky. It requires long, absolutely pristine runways. There can’t be a stray bullet or pebble or anything. Ukraine doesn’t have airfields of the capacity, or certainly not that Russia can’t hit and create all kinds of problems for, they will have to be flown out of Poland. And you can see the problems right there. Right there we’re in a direct conflict. Second of all, training. Actually, Romania has been positioned as a model for training Ukraine’s pilots to fly F-16s. And this is in a piece set of Air and Space Forces magazine. Romania has been transitioning from the Soviet-era MiG to the US F-16s. One of the things they talk about is that your instincts switching from a MiG to a US F-16 are completely wrong. And it’s actually better to start with a new pilot who has never flown a MiG before from scratch.”

Two U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons fly in formation during a mission in support of NATO Operation Allied Force on April 20, 1999.   - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.05.2023

Scott Ritter: Sending F-16 to Ukraine Will Backfire

Sleboda drew attention to the fact that Romania has been transitioning to F-16s for a staggering eight years. “And their comment was ‘We’re almost there’,” he stressed.

Romania joined NATO on March 29, 2004. However, for almost two decades it used Soviet-era weapons. In 2016, the nation bought its first F-16s from Portugal to replace its ageing MiG-21 warplanes. Last year it decided to ground its MiG 21 LanceR jet fleet citing high accident rate.

“So even if they can get into the plane after four months of training, take it off, presumably out of Poland, because I don’t see them doing it out of Ukraine, take it into the air. And, you know, with a wing and a prayer of being able to land it again, it doesn’t mean they’re going to be able to use it effectively in combat, particularly in a contested environment with Russia, with the best long range air defense in the world, their own very large Air Force, which even US generals testifying to the Senate have admited, has not been degraded at all. Hundreds of aircraft, a lot more advanced than the F-16, which is not a new aircraft anymore. It’s the 1980s model. Topgun was a long time ago. And these things would get ripped to shreds. This is more politics than it is military.”

Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Milley stressed that “the Russians have 1,000 fourth-generation fighters.” According to the joint chiefs’ chair, if Kiev wants to contest Russia in the air, it would need a substantial amount of fourth and fifth generation fighters.

Milley went on to say that if one “looks at the cost curve” and “does the analysis”, the smartest thing to have done would be to provide Ukraine with a significant amount of integrated air defenses to cover the battlespace and “deny the Russians the airspace.”

As of yet, however, the US has given Kiev a couple of NASAMS and a couple of Patriots, as well as some other equipment, which have proven to be vulnerable amid Russia’s hypersonic missiles, and failed not only to deny the airspace to the Russian forces, but also cover any meaningful part of the frontline.

What is behind this military aid then? Washington is pushing its NATO allies to hand over their legacy weapons to Kiev in order to sell them new and more expensive arms, according to Sleboda.

“The US has lots of extra F-16s and they’re trying to get the European countries that do use them – Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway – to transition to the F-35. So if they can convince these countries to say, ship everything, then they can get them to buy F-35s. The US military-industrial complex makes out like bandits,” Sleboda concluded.

For more of Mark Sleboda exclusive analysis on US policies in Ukraine, check out the full episode of the Fault Lines podcast.





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