Speaking to European news outlets this week, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Kyiv hopes to receive as many as 100 advanced fighter jets from its Western allies.
Reznikov told Germany’s Funke Media Group and France’s Ouest-France newspaper during a joint interview that the majority of the 100 planes Ukraine is requesting should be F-16 fighter jets.
Not ruling out the possibility of receiving Eurofighters and Gripen fighter jets from Europe – which Reznikov said has been discussed with European leaders already – the Ukrainian official also said that he hopes all of the planes will be delivered before the end of the year.
“My dream would be to have them for the end of the year,” Reznikov said.
Would F-16s Change Anything?
In a radio interview, the head of aviation of the Air Force Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Serhii Holubtsov argued that giving F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would improve the efficiency of HARM missiles being used against Russian air defense systems.
According to Holubtsov, the Ukrainian military has seen an improvement in its ability to accurately target Russian positions and destroy enemy hardware using advanced western weapons, including HARM anti-raar missiles.
When used alongside F-16 fighter jets, Holubtsov said, the accuracy of the missiles could be dramatically improved by avoiding the ground programming process that is currently required to launch the missiles.
F-16 fighter jets could theoretically detect and engage targets from the air more quickly with the missiles, removing the need to pre-program missiles on the ground.
Where Will They Come From?
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said during President Joe Biden’s trip to the G7 summit held in Hiroshima, Japan, on the weekend of May 20 that the United States will not stand in the way of Western allies sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
The comments came after the United States had already pledged to provide training to Ukrainian pilots on how to use the jets.
The comments indicate that the United States remains hesitant to provide fighter jets directly to Ukraine, presumably over long-held concerns over escalating the conflict.
Though, in allowing Western allies to send F-16s in potentially large numbers, the White House is likely to attract yet more criticism – and potentially a response – from the Kremlin.
Russia has already warned of the “enormous risks” that would come with sending advanced fighter jets to Kyiv, which could dramatically impact the dynamics of the war and force Russia to deploy its own advanced jets in response.
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Jack Buckby is 19FortyFive’s Breaking News Editor. He is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.