Ukraine’s 5 Dream Weapons It Could Use to Fight Russia – The Ukrainian military would like better arms systems to fight its enemies. That makes it like any armed force around the world, but Ukraine’s need is acute. Kyiv wants weapons that could help its defenders repel the Russian hordes and win the conflict as soon as possible. Not every system on its wish list makes sense. Cost rules some weapons out, as do training requirements, the need for spare parts, and essential maintenance necessities. But looking at the military hardware the Ukrainians would most like to receive from the United States and NATO tells us a lot about the nature of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
The F-16: A Welcome Addition
F-16 fighters top the list. The Ukrainians are flying outdated, Soviet-era airplanes. They would dearly like to fly something more advanced, and the F-16 Fighting Falcon is a warplane known and loved around the world. It is also on the old side: It started production in 1974. That means certain countries could cut it loose to help the Ukrainian Air Force. Some 4,500 F-16s have been built, and 1,245 are still in service in active and reserve units of the U.S. Air Force.
The F-16 has proven itself in combat as a multi-role air dominance fighter. This all-weather, day-and-night fighter could take out enemy planes across Ukraine, but the F-16 is also adept at destroying ground targets in close air support.
A-10: Laying Waste to Russia’s Armor
Next on the list is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which is better known by its nickname: the Warthog. This is a tank plinker extraordinaire. The Warthog was built especially to attack Soviet-made armor in a potential war against the USSR. The A-10 proved itself by knocking out numerous Iraqi tanks in Operation Desert Storm. Its surprised pilots received a hero’s welcome from media outlets after a short encounter with the Iraqis. Ukrainians manning the A-10 would devour Russia’s long armored vehicle columns.
M1 Abrams: The Difference Maker
The Abrams needs no introduction – Ukraine would love them. Its 120mm smoothbore gun is top-notch. It can reach a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour on roads. The Ukrainians are always looking for more ground attack capabilities. Why not supply them with M1 Abrams tanks? The United States has numerous Abrams in storage in Europe. Perhaps these could be dusted off, primed, and sent to Ukraine. This hunter-killer system would give Ukrainian tankers even greater confidence against Russian armor.
The Paladin: Self-Propelled Artillery
A self-propelled howitzer would pair well with Abrams tanks. Look no further than the Paladin M109. This system is the king of the battle. It has a huge 155mm gun. A well-trained, experienced crew on the move can stop and shoot in 60 seconds, then scoot the Paladin to a new location. Throw in an Excalibur guided projectile, and you have a force on the battlefield.
Patriot: The Adept Defender
The Ukrainians are doing an excellent job defending their airspace against Russian aircraft. S-300 surface-to-air missile systems and Stinger MANPADs have given the Russians fits. But the Ukrainians would love to have the American Patriot system on layaway. The Patriot can not only take out enemy airplanes, but it can also shoot down conventional missiles and cruise missiles. The system fires the highly capable Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) interceptor. The missile has a range of 43 miles, and it can destroy targets flying at more than 14 miles of altitude. The minimum flight time is less than nine seconds, while the maximum is 3.5 minutes. The Patriot would bring doom to Russia’s air and rocket forces.
This is a dream sheet for the Ukrainians, but the United States and NATO are being careful about which arms systems go to the defenders, and it might not be possible to supply this kind of hardware. Training new users on the systems is prohibitive. It takes months, for example, to train pilots on the F-16. Other systems are too valuable to share. But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy can keep trying for new arms systems. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.