Will the delivery of the F-16s recorded by Joe Biden allow Ukraine to regain the advantage? It will still be necessary to wait until autumn before seeing the Ukrainian pilots trained.
Romania is one more country to start training F-16 fighter pilots, especially for Ukrainian soldiers. Bucharest announced it. For weeks Ukraine has said it needs this American plane, the most used in the world, to fight the Russian invasion. And on May 19, after numerous refusals, Joe Biden gave the green light to the delivery of combat aircraft to Ukraine, including F-16s.
Air force imbalance
But why was Volodymyr Zelensky desperately asking for these devices? Kyiv is struggling to impose itself in the air, and the F-16 would allow it to regain control of the skies and provide air support to ground troops. According to the military analysis site Global Firepower, at the beginning of January Ukraine had less than 190 operational planes against more than 2,000 for Russia.
“When you are in the maneuver, explains Jean Pierre Maulny, deputy director of the Institute of International and Strategic Relations (IRIS), you are for example bombarding enemy forces with artillery. You see them maneuvering. And the usefulness is, with these combat planes, to be able to target the Russian forces which are maneuvering opposite.
Léo Péria-Peigné, a researcher at Ifri’s Center for Security Studies, adds that there are three main ways to use the F-16s: “To do ground support, he says. To s either support a Ukrainian attack to intercept fighter jets that would just come into Ukrainian airspace, or even possibly with certain ammunition to intercept missiles and drones that threaten sensitive points.
Training, a key point that will take time
Since the American endorsement, several countries are seeking to help Ukraine train its F-16 pilots.
The head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell indicated at the end of May that Poland had already started to do so and that several countries were ready to supply Ukraine with these combat aircraft.
The Netherlands hopes to be able to train Ukrainian F-16 pilots this summer.
This article is originally published on fr.euronews.com