Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday that the Kremlin’s forces would shoot down every F-16 fighter jet promised to Ukraine in a matter of 20 days. He made the vow after he also claimed that Russian air defense systems destroyed more than 1,400 Ukrainian air targets over the past month, including 37 aircraft and six US-made ATACMS missiles.
“Air defense crews are getting the job done. Over the past month, they destroyed more than 1,400 enemy air targets, including 37 aircraft and six U.S.-made ATACMS tactical ballistic missiles,” Shoigu said during a conference call, reported by state media outlet Tass.
According to Shoigu, the 37 planes shot down by Russian air defense systems last month were almost double the number of F-16 fighter jets the West promised to deliver to Ukraine.
“That is, given this kind of activity from our air defense systems, they [the F-16 jets] will last about 20 days,” he continued.
Those figures have not been independently verified, and Moscow has been accused of inflating Ukraine’s casualty numbers.
First F-16s to Arrive Soon
The first U.S.-made F-16 Fighting Falcon that the Netherlands pledged to donate to Ukraine will arrive at a training center in Ukraine by the middle of the month.
“I expect the Patriot missiles to be delivered shortly, to aid Ukraine in the upcoming winter. And the same speed applies to the F-16s,” outgoing Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Monday during a video conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The first ones will be shipped to the training center in Romania within the next two weeks so that day we will get ready for further training,” he added. “What is happening now in Gaza and the terrorist attack on Israel and all the follow-up from that will not, shall not, and cannot distract us from what is happening between you and Russia, the fact that you are fighting off the Russia aggression.”
The exchange between the two leaders was shared on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Belgium, Denmark, and Norway have also announced they would each provide a number of F-16 jets to aid Kyiv in its war against Russia.
Pilot Training Underway in Texas
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) announced in August that it will soon begin training Ukrainians to fly and maintain F-16 fighter aircraft in support of the international effort to develop and strengthen Ukraine’s long-term defenses.
Last month, the U.S. Air Force confirmed that Ukrainian pilots have begun flight training on the F-16 with the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard. That flight training began after the pilots completed language training in San Antonio, Texas – the home of the Defense Language Institute English Language Center.
Other Russian Claims
In his conference call, Shoigu further alleged that Ukraine has run out of reserves, and claimed Kyiv’s soldiers are demoralized, and despite the supply of new NATO weapons, its army has been retreating.
Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine more than 20 months ago and has largely been on the defensive throughout this year.
Kyiv has also claimed that the Kremlin has taken significant losses – more than 300,000 soldiers as of this week, a number that is also likely inflated. However, that figure is roughly what could be expected from high-intensity warfare between two relatively well-matched adversaries, Hague Centre for Strategic Studies analyst Frederik Mertens told Newsweek.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
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