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19 Feb, 2024 14:36

Ukraine admits to ‘complications’ with Western jets

An Air Force spokesman has poured cold water on hopes that Kiev could operate multiple types of warplanes
Ukraine admits to ‘complications’ with Western jets

Ukraine will not be able to operate multiple types of Western warplanes due to immense logistical issues and will need to focus on US-made F-16 fighter jets, a spokesman for the Air Force has admitted.

Speaking on national TV on Monday, Yury Ignat was asked whether Kiev could potentially start flying French fighters after signing a bilateral security pact with Paris last week. The deal, however, says nothing about possible aircraft deliveries — and the spokesman proceeded to pour cold water on any such expectations. 

“All I can say here is that we will not be able to put a lot of different types of aircraft into service. We will not be able to maintain them, service them, and train pilots,” Ignat said, adding that this would be a “complicated process.”

He stressed that against this backdrop, operating F-16 fighters has become “the number one goal” for Ukraine. 

Ignat did not provide specific information as to when Kiev will receive them. “The only thing I can confirm is that there is an action plan, and it’s being implemented. Our partners are ready to hand over the planes to Ukraine.”

According to the spokesman, Kiev and its Western backers have to think not only about the warplane transfer itself, but also maintenance, pilot training and ground personnel, as well as necessary infrastructure.

Ignat admitted backup is critical, noting that it would take years to prepare the ground-support it in earnest. “Ideally, all this should be hidden underground, as Iran does… To build reinforced concrete storage facilities that would withstand hits from ballistic missiles,” he explained.

Last month, Ignat already voiced concerns linked to the warplane diversity, noting that even without Western fighters Ukraine already operates four types of Soviet-era jets.

The coalition to help Ukraine procure F-16 fighter jets was announced last summer, with the US later clearing Denmark and the Netherlands to deliver up to 61 warplanes to Kiev. On Saturday, Foreign Policy reported, citing two European officials, that Kiev could receive the first batch of warplanes in June.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned in December that Moscow would consider Ukrainian-operated F-16s as “legitimate targets.” She also noted that the deliveries would lead NATO to “become even more mired in the Ukraine conflict” while serving as proof that the US-led military bloc is “waging a hybrid war” against Russia.