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The West's dilemma: Will they send fighter jets to Kiev? | Israel today


After breaking the Western taboo and getting tanks: in Kiev they raise the bar - and want fighter planes • What are the chances? According to Biden and Schultz, the idea is "impractical" • Navigator in response to the Israeli HA: "Western planes will increase the ability to wear down the Russians"

A little more than a week after the historic decision by Germany and the US to supply battle tanks to the Ukrainian army in its war against Russia, a poignant discussion is taking place in the West regarding the transfer of fighter jets to the Ukrainian Air Force, which has suffered heavy losses during almost a year of fighting.

The issue made headlines when, on Monday, US President Joe Biden ruled out the possibility that his country would supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. In response to a question from journalists, Biden said that transferring Western-made fighter jets to Ukraine was "impractical". Two days before Therefore, the German chancellor, Olaf Schulz, similarly rejected the idea.

Despite heavy losses: the Ukrainian Air Force continues to fly // Photo: Ukrainian Air Force

It is not clear at this stage if the Western refusal to deliver modern aircraft to Ukraine stems from a fear of escalation or some logistical problem, but the Ukrainians do not hide their need for such weapons.

The spokesman of the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuri Ignat, said earlier this week that his country needs about 200 multi-purpose fighter jets, a model similar to the American F-16.

At the same time, last week it was published in the country's media that its army is currently working on upgrading its bases so that they are suitable for Western-made aircraft.

Ukrainian MiG-29 with American armament, photo: AFP

The Ukrainian Air Force suffered unimaginable losses during the fighting against the Russian Air Force, which is significantly larger and better equipped than it.

The Ukrainian army started the war with a few dozen obsolete Soviet-made planes, but the Russian failure to destroy them in the first days of the fighting was just the end of Moscow's attempt to gain complete control over the skies of Ukraine.

Despite the numerical and qualitative landings, the Air Force of Ukraine continues to operate in a limited manner and to inflict damage on the Russians.

"wear out the Russians"

"Actually, the war in Ukraine is really not an air war," Lt. Col. (Ret.) Omar Danek, a navigator in the Air Force, told "Israel Hayom". , between two land armies, where the air force has almost no effect on the battlefield."

According to Dank, owner of the "Strategic Question" blog, "Both armies succeed in denying the other side's ability to use air power - something that is much more significant for the Ukrainians, who are suffering tremendous losses against the Russian Air Force."

A German anti-aircraft gun of the "Gepard" model, photo: AFP

Dank, like many other experts, believes that Western assistance with fighter jets to Ukraine will not bring about a revolutionary and immediate change in the way of fighting, but will allow the Ukrainians a little more of what they need to tip the scales against the Russian giant.

"Western assistance with fighter jets can help Ukraine in three ways," Dank explained.

"The first - in the expansion of Ukrainian precision attack capability on long-range targets relative to what has been carried out so far. That is, the ability to carry out attacks on a larger scale on various deep targets.

"Aerial armament, being cheaper, will increase the range of targets that the Ukrainians can attack - such as artillery batteries, small ammunition depots and local command and control positions.

"It will not decide the war in a short period of time, but it can significantly increase their ability to wear down the Russians."

The remains of a Russian fighter plane near Chernihiv, photo: Reuters

"The second option is to give the Ukrainians aircraft that will serve as a substitute for air defense, with the aim of denying the Russians freedom of action on the front and air support for the ground forces. Assuming that the Ukrainians run out of air defense capability, Western aircraft will be able to prevent the Russians from achieving air superiority. I don't think this is a strong alternative, and I believe the West will know provide air defense systems instead.

"The third option is the transfer of aircraft that are more effective in close combat - that is, support for the ground forces, such as the A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft. This is an aircraft that can fly at a low altitude, and basically be used by the Ukrainians as 'flying artillery' for close assistance in fighting against the Russians."

able to cope

As for a specific aircraft model that will be handed over to the Ukrainians, Dank said: "This is an open question that we don't know the answer to. A major possibility that is on the table is the American F-16, which is flown by many air forces around the world, and there is a relatively large stockpile of old models that can be Relatively easy to transfer to Ukraine.

"Another possibility is the Swedish 'Grifen', which is considered an excellent fighter plane and can operate from relatively short landing and takeoff runways. There are also other options, but less realistic, such as the British Tornado."

President of the United States Joe Biden, photo: AFP

Like President Biden, many sources in the West hinted or stated that the Ukrainian Air Force - which until now mainly operated Soviet-made aircraft, such as the MiG 29 and Sukhoi 25 - will have difficulty training pilots, and moreover ground crews and suitable facilities for the Western fighter jets.

Trent Telenko, an expert in military logistics, who has previously analyzed the evolution of fighting in Ukraine with great success, believes that the Ukrainian Air Force is ready for the task.

"The Ukrainians," he wrote, "were capable of assembling airplanes that were sent to them in pieces themselves, and manufacturing suitable Russian-made components in reverse engineering. They are certainly capable of handling the maintenance of Western aircraft with relatively simple digital systems to replace."

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2023-02-01

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