TechF-16 limitations for Ukraine: No crossing into Russian airspace, Pentagon clarifies

F‑16 limitations for Ukraine: No crossing into Russian airspace, Pentagon clarifies

F-16, illustrative photo
F-16, illustrative photo
Images source: © Getty Images
12:46 PM EDT, March 21, 2024

Pentagon spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder has clarified the limitations on how Ukrainians will be able to utilize F-16 fighters. The pilots of these much-anticipated aircraft will be restricted from crossing a clearly delineated "red line".

Ukrainians are primarily devoted to repelling Russian forces invading their territory. For months, they have also been gradually aiming to strike pivotal locations in Russia, such as airports or refineries. They mainly employ drones for these missions, often achieving their goals.

F-16s restricted from engaging in Russia

"We are discussing the provision of Ukraine with a unique aerial capability, which ought to concentrate on defending Ukraine's sovereign territory within certain borders [...]. The United States is not at war with Russia. We are not pursuing a war with Russia," - Patrick Ryder stated in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalists.

Efforts to transfer F-16 fighters to Ukraine have been in progress for several months. A coalition of several NATO countries has been established, aimed not only at supplying the equipment and ammunition but also at training Ukrainian pilots. These pilots receive training on how to operate F-16s, among other places, in the United States, before heading to a newly established training center in Romania.

High expectations for F-16s

Ukraine has been assured of receiving several dozen F-16s. According to the latest reports from the "New York Times," by the summer, 12 Ukrainian pilots will have achieved combat flight readiness on these planes. However, the same report suggests that only six F-16s will have been delivered to Ukraine by then.

Ukrainian pilots training on F-16s have highly praised these fighters. In interviews, they highlight that these aircraft are significantly more advanced than the Soviet-era fighters, offering better performance and encouraging a more assertive flying style.

The F-16 is a versatile fighter, capable of achieving speeds up to Mach 2 (over 1300 mph) and operating at altitudes as high as 49,000 feet.

Its standard armament includes a six-barrel M61 Vulcan cannon, caliber 20 mm, but it is also capable of carrying various missiles (including the AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, AGM-65 Maverick, or AGM-84D Harpoon) and bombs (e.g., CBU-87, CBU-89, GBU-10, GBU-12, Paveway, or JDAM).

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