“Now we also need F-16s, F-35s, Eurofighters, Tornados and warships,” reads the dream book of Ukrainian Deputy Foreign Minister Andriy Melnyk. After the taboo on the delivery of modern Western tanks was broken, Kyiv steps up and rattles off the new armaments list with a few well-aimed declarations.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself, after fears of an escalation of the green light for tanks – he said yesterday that 300 or 500 are needed – claims that “Russian aggression can and must be stopped only with adequate weapons.” Weapons on the battlefield, weapons that protect our skies.” A request made by F-16 fighters that does not surprise the White House. “We are in contact with Kyiv,” said National Security Council communications chief John Kirby. But at the moment “there are no announcements to make”.
In fact, from the very beginning, when the air force was decimated in the early days of the invasion, the Ukrainians had asked for American F-16 fighters to be deployed. F-15s are fine too, but the real problem is that you need pilots who can successfully fly fighter-bombers on war missions. “It takes three years to train a combat-ready pilot even for fifth-generation fighter jets like the F-35 and F-16,” explains a former officer working in the military aircraft industry. Ukraine has pilots used to Russian planes like the Mig and the Sukhoi. “It’s like going from a 500 to a Ferrari – notes the Giornale source – apart from the fenders, which have the same function, the instrumentation and armament are completely different”. Not to mention the problem of support structure, spare parts and logistics needed for western fighters. “The only alternative would be to recruit experienced Western pilots and technicians, who would have to take Ukrainian citizenship if we don’t want to start World War III,” observes the former air force officer.
Even if these obstacles were overcome, the Russians would immediately aim to burn Western fighters, considering them a priority threat for any deep raids on their own territory, and Crimea in particular. Much worse than the tank-driven escalation. The former ambassador in Berlin also spoke of fourth-generation fighters like the Eurofighters and the older Tornados from the 1970s. The latter is a multirole fighter cheaper than the others, costing around 30 million euros, still in our Air Force. The Eurofighter is worth up to 100 million euros, like the American Lockheed Martin’s F-35, built in synergy with Leonardo, the Italian war industry giant.
Yuriy Sak, adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, confirmed that Ukraine intends to receive supplies of F-16 fighter-bombers from Western countries after overcoming their resistance and receiving supplies of tanks. “We needed every type of weapon that we needed yesterday,” Sak points out. After the painful yes to the Leopard 2, Olaf Scholz’s spokesman from Berlin made it clear without a doubt: “The German Chancellor has already made it very clear to the Bundestag that the fighter-bombers are not a game from the outset”.
During his tenure as ambassador to Germany, Ukraine’s deputy foreign minister argued sharply with the government for its reluctance to supply advanced weapons. Melnyk reiterates that in addition to fighter-bombers, we are “talking about German ships, some of the best in the world, badly needed to protect coasts from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov.” European fleets are struggling with tight budgets to keep the fleet up to date. The possibly available units would be those in the direction of disarmament. And despite the bravery of Ukrainian sailors, leading them in the war against the Russian Black Sea Fleet would not be easy