F‑16 fighters may already be operating in Ukraine, full combat readiness expected by spring
Reports suggest that F-16s may already be present in Ukrainian airspace - reveals Svitan. However, he emphasizes that these must be aircraft not based at Ukrainian airports. - Based on specific indications, particularly the launching of some rockets, we can infer that this may already be happening
The Ukrainian military stresses that although there are reports the F-16s may already be operating over Ukraine, it takes approximately six months to prepare the technical and engineering staff for service adequately. Therefore, Svitan believes that the F-16s will only be fully operational in a few weeks. - I believe we will see them in action around March-April - he predicts.
It's worth remembering that the F-16 fighters are crucial for Ukrainians— these aircraft can provide an airborne advantage. However, experts warn that even though the aircraft itself is valuable, the weaponry the F-16 can carry is the critical component on the frontline.
Western allies have promised to send several dozen aircraft to Kyiv; however, some experts believe this number will not be enough to achieve air superiority. They argue that Ukraine needs as many as 120 F-16s to dominate the air.
These awaited fighters are capable of speeds up to Mach 2 and can operate at altitudes of about 50,000 feet, while achieving a range of approximately 1,988 miles, or up to 2,610 miles with additional fuel tanks. A single aircraft weighs about 37,478 lbs, with its primary weapon being a six-barrel M61 Vulcan cannon of 20mm calibre.
In the context of the F-16, additional armaments, such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AGM-65 Maverick, CBU-87, GBU-10, and JDAM-missiles, are crucial. The most recent reports indicate that the F-16s coming to Ukraine will be equipped with AGM-158 JASSM missiles — a feature Polish aircraft also possess. This missile moves at subsonic speed (0.9 Ma), is roughly 14.1 feet long, and comes with a penetrating WDU-42/B warhead weighing about 948 lbs. Its basic configuration has a range of just under 249 miles, while in the extended range (ER) version, it can reach nearly 622 miles.