F-16s to protect Ukraine’s Kharkiv from guided bombs

    WORLD  20 June 2024 - 16:26

    Dutch air force commander, Gen Arnoud Stallmann has said that he expected that at some point this summer, F-16 fighter jets would finally take to the skies over Ukraine.

    Stallmann made these remarks at a military base in the rural south of the Netherlands, according to the foreign media.

    “Around this summertime, it is all lining up,” he said, speaking in front of two disused F-16s inside a hangar at the base, where a recent programme to train Ukrainian air force instructors in maintenance for the jets had just come to a close.

    Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have pledged to provide Ukraine with about 80 US made F-16 fighter jets between them, hardware that the Ukrainian air force has been asking for more than a year. But the programme to get the planes in the air has been hit by delays in delivery and training.

    The general said the training regimen for pilots and ground staff to operate the aircraft was not simple. “It’s not just the pilots who need training; technicians and maintainers also require thorough instruction. We’re providing comprehensive support training to ensure they can effectively maintain the aircraft. So everything has to come together,” he said.

    The Netherlands’ defence minister, Kajsa Ollongren, also said the first deliveries of aircraft to Ukraine should take place this summer, and pushed back against criticism over the delays amid reports that Kyiv has been frustrated with the pace of pilot training.

    “I completely understand the Ukrainian position, they want to do this as fast as possible … We are doing the project as fast as we can, we are really stretching our capacity,” Ollongren said.

    “The F-16s are really much more complicated than the systems the Ukrainian air force were using so far … You cannot just hop over several steps, you have to take every step of the process, but also we want to deliver them as quickly as possible,” she added.

    Ukraine has been waiting for months to start using the fighter jets, and hopes their introduction will change the dynamics of the war, forcing Russia to adopt more conservative tactics in its attacks on areas closer to the border.

    Russia has been using KABs extensively against the city of Kharkiv in recent weeks, launching the bombs from planes that remain inside Russian airspace. Numerous Ukrainian sources said F-16s would protect Ukraine’s second city from these weapons.

    Ollongren said Ukraine would be able to use the Dutch-donated fighter jets to carry out attacks inside Russia, providing that the use is for defensive purposes and complies with international law. Denmark has also said Ukraine would be permitted to use its F-16 fighter jets to attack targets inside Russia.

    “We have seen that it is necessary for Ukraine to be able to strike inside Russia. Otherwise, Russia will always have an advantage. Allowing Ukraine to use weapons across the border enhances the efficiency of their military actions,” said Ollongren.

    Caliber.Az

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