Pentagon trying to fit US missiles to Ukrainian jets – Politico
The Pentagon is looking into the possibility of installing US-made missiles on Soviet-era MiG fighter jets, used by Ukraine in its conflict with Russia, two Department of Defense officials and another person familiar with the matter have told Politico.
The weapons are AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAM), designed to be fired by Western planes, including F-16s, and have a range of just over 100km (62 miles), the outlet reported on Tuesday.
However, the sources noted the challenges posed by the integration process, due to significant differences between US and Soviet technology.
The key problem is that the missile and the plane are unable to “talk” to each other, they said, explaining that in order to fire a shot the aircraft’s radar must find the target and then guide the projectile close to it.
The issues that the Pentagon has been working on are: “How do you mount this thing? Can you get all the electronics in the aircraft to talk to this thing that wasn’t meant to be launched?” one of the officials said.
The sources pointed out that there were concerns over Kiev running low on air defenses as the Russian forces continue with missile attacks on Ukrainian military and energy infrastructure, while also sending out decoy balloons with radar reflectors to deplete Ukrainian missile stocks.
If the Pentagon succeeds in combining AMRAAMs and MiGs it will mark the first time that the US would be giving Ukrainian aircraft the capability to fire air-to-air missiles, Politico wrote.
The US and its allies have so far been reluctant to fulfill persistent demands by Ukraine for Western warplanes.
“I’m ruling it out for now,” US President Joe Biden said in late February when asked about potentially arming Ukraine with American fighter jets. Ukrainian leader Vladimir Zelensky “doesn’t need F-16s now. There is no basis upon which there is a rationale, according to our military, now, to provide F-16s,” Biden said.
Russia has warned that deliveries of more sophisticated longer-range weapons to Ukraine by the US and its allies could cross its ‘red lines,’ which would lead to a major escalation. According to Moscow, the supply of weapons, intelligence sharing and training provided to the Kiev troops have de facto already made Western nations parties to the conflict.