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What NATO Fighter Jets Could be Sent to Ukraine?

F-16 Viper
An Air Force F-16 Viper taxis just a few hundred feet from the wall of fire at the Fort Worth Alliance Air Show, Oct. 28, 2017 at Fort Worth, Texas. (Courtesy photo by Air Force Viper Demo Team)

Fighter Jets for Ukraine? What Could Be Sent? During Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy’s surprise visit to Britain on 8 February 2023, quite a few eyebrows were raised when British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged that Britain would soon begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly NATO-standard jet fighters.

However, the excitement over that initial announcement was somewhat dampened two weeks later when UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace announced that Britain was not planning to send RAF Eurofighter Typhoons to Kyiv, with the rationale that the jets would be too complex for Ukraine. 

So Kyiv won’t be receiving any Typhoons for now…but what other NATO fighter planes are still potentially on the table for Ukraine?

MiG-29 “Fulcrum” from Poland?

Early on in the conflict, there was much talk about the possibility of Poland supplying some of their 4th Generation MiG-29 Fulcrums to Ukraine, but in a major public relations flap for NATO, the powers that be put the kibosh on this.

Though the MiG-29’s once fearsome reputation took a hit after getting repeatedly shot down by Western pilots in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Allied Force, it is still a highly capable warbird in a skilled pilot’s hands, as the Ukrainian Air Force has repeatedly demonstrated.

With a max airspeed of Mach 2.25 (1,500 mph) and packing a punch consisting of (1) single Gryazev-Shipurov GSh-30-1 30mm autocannon and (2) hardpoints with a capacity for 4,000 kilograms’ (8,800 pounds) worth of bombs or air-to-air missiles, the Fulcrum is still definitely no slouch.  

It would make even more sense for Poland to send Fulcrums to Ukraine when you consider that these 4th Generation fighters are due to be replaced anyway; the Polish government has ordered 48 of South Korea’s KAI T-50 Golden Eagle planes — which will be officially designated the FA-50PL in Polish parlance – as replacements for the Su-22 Fitter and the MiG-29 alike.

And since the Ukrainian Air Force has already been using the Fulcrum, that would eliminate the need for a transitional training phase that would be necessary for the next two hypothetical candidates on the list.

F-16 Fighting Falcon/“Viper” from the U.S.

Part of the rationale against supplying Eurofighter Typhoons to Ukraine mirrors that of the Biden Administration’s rationale for denying  the F-16 Fighting Falcon AKA “The Viper,” to the Ukrainians, i.e. that training on a Western combat aircraft would be too complicated.      

The problem with that rationalization is that another Slavic nation, Poland – with a language very similar to Ukrainian – already has the F-16, more specifically the F-16-C/D Block 52, which are equipped with JHMCS and Sniper ER pods, and armed with AIM-9X Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missiles, AIM-120C “Slammer” Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM), Joint Standoff Weapons (JSOW), and Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM). Indeed, Warsaw acquired these planes back in 2006 as part of the Poland Peace Sky program, and thus the Poles laid claim to the title of first former Warsaw Pact ally to operate the F-16.

If the Polish Air Force pilots can be trained up on the F-16, not to mention non-European fighter pilots such as those of the Iraqi Air Force, then why not the Ukrainian Air Force?

With senior GOP lawmakers like Rep. Mike McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee, ramping up criticism of the Biden Administration for refusing to send the Vipers to Ukraine, the notion of F-16s to Ukraine might be gaining a new lease on life.

Dark Horse Candidate: Dassault Mirage 2000?

Back in late January, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that he was not ruling out sending jet fighters, although Kyiv has yet to formally request them.

France certainly has a track record of exporting variants of its Dassault Mirage fighter series to various foreign customers, and the Mirage 2000 in particular has already been exported to a variety of decidedly non-European military customers, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, and Taiwan, so in theory at least, providing them to Ukraine shouldn’t seem too far-fetched. 

Making her maiden flight in March 1978, the Mirage 2000 entered official operational service with the French Air Force (Armée de l’air) back in July 1984.

It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.2 and is armed with two 30mm DEFA 554 revolver cannon plus nine hardpoints with a capacity of up to 6,300 kg (13,900 lbs.) of air-to-air or air-to-ground ordnance.

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Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force Security Forces officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon). Chris holds a B.A. in International Relations from the University of Southern California (USC) and an M.A. in Intelligence Studies (concentration in Terrorism Studies) from American Military University (AMU). He has also been published in The Daily Torch and The Journal of Intelligence and Cyber Security. Last but not least, he is a Companion of the Order of the Naval Order of the United States (NOUS)

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).



  1. H.R. Holm

    March 9, 2023 at 9:33 pm

    Advanced western combat aircraft for Ukraine. Really? And what is one of the first things that the Ukranians will want to do with them? Can anyone say, ‘air raid on Moscow’ ? Oh, that’s just hat we need. U.S. provided F-16s dumping whatever munitions square on the Kremlin. Now how will that go over with Russian leadership? This is just a ploy to permit and allow such an action. Another example of NATO/US leading us right up to nuclear confligration.

  2. pagar

    March 10, 2023 at 7:45 am

    NATO jets to Ukraine.

    Nah, won’t happen.

    Russia ain’t no Libya. Russia has an impressive (for now at least) nuke arsenal. Unlike gadaffi’s Libya.

    Without the presence of THAT NUKE ARSENAL, french rafale jets would be busily flying over Moscow by now.

    In 2011, France (along with other NATO buddies) flailed china & Russia for refusing to agree to a NFZ over Libya.

    After the NFZ was finally allowed, french jets helped blew up govt targets to aid the islaamist forces to take tripoli and toppling the govt.

    The entire gold hoard in Libya’s national bank disappeared overnight supposedly to Europe and UAE.


    Still, do remember the big nuke arsenal in Russia !!!

  3. Cheburator

    March 12, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    NATO discusses what fighters Ukraine can get.
    Iran, North Korea and Venezuela receive Su30 and Su35

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