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Ukraine Wants Western Warplanes

FILE: US Air Force F-16 jet fighter takes off. Taken Jan. 23, 2023
FILE: US Air Force F-16 jet fighter takes off. Taken Jan. 23, 2023

Ukraine will now push for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the U.S. F-16 after securing supplies of main battle tanks, an adviser to Ukraine's defence minister said on Wednesday.

"The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets," Yuriy Sak, who advises Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told Reuters.

Ukraine's Air Force has a fleet of aging Soviet-era fighters that came off the assembly line before Kyiv even declared independence more than 31 years ago. The warplanes are used for intercept missions and to attack Russian positions.

"If we get them (Western fighter jets), the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense... It's not just F-16s (U.S. multirole fighters): fourth generation aircraft, this is what we want," Sak stated.

Justin Bronk, a researcher at the RUSI think tank in London, said Ukraine's Air Force would benefit greatly from Western fighters in terms of air-to-air and potentially air-to-ground lethality.

But he said on Twitter they would still be at high risk from Russian surface to air missiles, forcing them to fly very low near the front line, something that "would dramatically reduce effective missile range and limit strike options".

Despite any lack of significant palpable movement on the matter, Ukraine's Air Force has yearned for better aircraft throughout the war.

A Ukrainian pilot codenamed Juice told Reuters last month that many of his peers in the Air Force were taking English lessons in their free time in anticipation that Kyiv would one day receive foreign aircraft such as the F-16 fighter.

Ukraine, which was invaded by Russia last February, has also said it wants to receive long-range missiles from the West.