For months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling on his Western allies to supply his country with F-16 fighter jets to enable the Ukrainian army to strike Russian forces in depth.
And the British Presidency recently announced that London intends to build an “international coalition” to help Ukraine obtain F-16 fighter jets.
Many of Ukraine’s allies view the US F-16, a versatile lightweight fighter jet, as “an important deterrent to Russia,” according to a report in the New York Times.
F-16 fighter jet
The F-16 fighter, called the “Fighting Falcon”, first flew in 1976. It is a hypersonic combat aircraft used by armies in 25 countries.
This aircraft is ideal for carrying out “air-to-air” and “air-to-ground” attacks, and has been a decisive factor in many battles in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo and the Gulf, and in numerous missions to defend the airspace of the United States.
This aircraft is manufactured by Lockheed Martin, as it is built in companies located in several countries, including Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.
It is estimated that there are 3,000 F-16 aircraft around the world, which are considered multi-use, and the price of some of their models reaches $63 million.
Advantages of the F-16 fighter
This fighter can fly at different altitudes, and has the ability to accurately monitor its targets in all weather conditions, and to detect low-flying aircraft in an attempt to avoid being detected by ground radars.
According to the US Air Force website, this aircraft can fly more than 860 km before returning to its base, so that it can accurately hit its targets and defend itself against enemy aircraft.
This aircraft was developed with the latest available in advanced space sciences, as it can fly at an acceleration of “9G”, that is, nine times the force of gravity, which exceeds the capabilities of combat aircraft.
The cockpit provides the pilot with the ability to see without any blind spots, not to mention the presence of a side console instead of using the traditional joystick located in the center of the plane.
The electronic systems in this aircraft include advanced geographic positioning systems, air navigation systems, guidance information for the pilot, and advanced radio communication systems.
Why does Ukraine want the F-16s?
Ukrainian officials are demanding access to the F-16 fighter jets, with the aim of enhancing Kiev’s ability to shoot down missiles coming from Russian planes, according to the New York Times report.
President Zelensky said in his recent statements to European leaders that “without modern combat aircraft, there will be no strong air defense system.”
Western officials consider that these planes could constitute a “deterrent” factor for Ukraine against the Russian Air Force, which has an advantage over combat aircraft.
Officials in the administration of US President Joe Biden fear that sending these planes during the current time will reduce the amount of funds available to finance Kiev’s defense needs, not to mention the need for months to train Ukrainian pilots to fly new Western planes.
US Assistant Secretary of Defense Celeste Wallander said in a session of the House of Representatives last month that the US administration is focusing on Ukraine’s military needs and what is practical for them at the present time, noting that their need for F-16s comes eighth in the list of priorities it needs. Kiev.
London had announced a British-Dutch agreement to build an “international coalition” to help Ukraine obtain F-16 fighter jets.
Zelinsky arrives in Britain.. and London pledges more military support
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Britain on Monday, where he will meet with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, at a time when London pledged to increase military support.
After London and Paris announced training for pilots on combat aircraft, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his Dutch counterpart, Mark Rutte, announced a few days ago that they intended to build an “international coalition” to help Ukraine obtain F-16 fighter jets.
A statement from the British government’s presidency indicated that the two men agreed at the meeting, which was held on the occasion of a summit of the Council of Europe in Iceland, to “work together to build an international coalition to provide Ukraine with air combat capabilities, starting with training and ending with the delivery of F-16 fighters.”