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What Is the F-16 Fighter Jet and Why Does Ukraine Need It?

British and Dutch plans to assist Ukraine acquire F-16 fighter jets have put america and a few of its closest European allies at odds — but once more — over what weapons the West ought to ship Kyiv to defend in opposition to Russia’s invasion.

Even when the Biden administration overcomes its long-held reluctance to provide Ukraine the American-made planes, the F-16 wouldn’t be utilized in fight for months on the earliest, officers and army analysts say. However with no finish to the warfare in sight, the F-16 has develop into the newest superior weapon that Ukraine and a few of its backers say it must stave off Russia — each within the present battle and for years to return.

Here’s a take a look at the F-16, why Ukraine needs it and why the Biden administration is hesitant to provide it.

First flown in 1976, the F-16 “Preventing Falcon” is a supersonic fighter jet utilized by militaries in 25 nations for air-to-air fight and air-to-ground strikes. It has flown in American conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, the Persian Gulf and on homeland protection missions in U.S. airspace.

The F-16 is constructed by the American protection contractor Lockheed Martin and producers in Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway — 4 nations {that a} senior Ukrainian official says have quietly signaled they’re prepared to switch a few of their F-16s to Kyiv.

It’s broadly thought of versatile, light-weight and cost-effective — with a price ticket of as much as $63 million, relying on the mannequin, in line with some estimates. There are roughly 3,000 at the moment in lively army service worldwide, together with a whole lot within the U.S. Air Pressure and Navy.

The F-16 has each offensive and defensive capabilities. Within the brief time period, Ukrainian officers say, F-16s and different superior Western fighter jets are wanted to reinforce air defenses, with Kyiv’s present ground-launched methods being exhausted by frequent barrages of Russian missiles. The jets might be launched inside minutes and geared up to shoot down incoming missiles and enemy plane.

With out fashionable fighter jets, “no air protection system can be excellent,” President Volodymyr Zelensky informed European leaders gathered at a summit in Reykjavik, Iceland, this week.

Past the present battle, many officers throughout Europe and in america consider the F-16 could possibly be a key deterrent to future aggression in opposition to Ukraine by Russia’s vastly superior air pressure.

Coaching Ukraine’s pilots to fly Western jets will take months, and the Biden administration says it’s higher to ship weapons that can assist Ukraine in its coming counteroffensive in opposition to Russia — a battle that many within the West hope can be a turning level within the warfare. A senior American official stated this week that the price of sending F-16s would soak up a lot of an already dwindling pot of U.S. warfare funding.

At a Home listening to final month, Celeste A. Wallander, an assistant secretary of protection, stated that the administration was centered on Ukraine’s army wants but in addition on what was sensible. “What do they require proper now, which is what we’ve been centered on for the battles they’re going through,” she stated. “What can we ship that can be well timed and efficient?”

She stated that fashionable Western jet fighters, like F-16s, had been “about eighth on the checklist” of priorities.

Most likely truthful to excessive, in line with officers and army analysts. The Biden administration has beforehand stated no to a number of kinds of superior weapons for Ukraine — together with HIMARS missile launchers, Abrams tanks and Patriot missiles — solely to reverse itself underneath stress from European allies and Congress.

Beneath what analysts describe because the largely doubtless state of affairs, america would problem re-export licenses to different nations which have F-16s, permitting them to switch their jets to Ukraine. Given the prices of every jet, it’s much less doubtless that america would ship its personal F-16s to Ukraine, although it’s not inconceivable.

If Western allies intend to improve Ukraine’s aged Soviet-era air fleet with extra fashionable jets, giving the nation F-16s is “the most certainly consequence,” stated Douglas Barrie, a army aerospace professional on the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research in London.

He additionally stated it might be unlikely for Britain, with its “particular relationship” with America, to push forward with attempting to offer F-16s if the Biden administration was not not less than considerably on board. “It could be stunning, to place it mildly,” he stated.


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