TechF-16s set to transform Ukraine's defense against Russian bombers

F‑16s set to transform Ukraine's defense against Russian bombers

Images source: © Alex Beltyukov, Lic. CC BY 3.0

6:27 PM EDT, April 26, 2024

Ukrainian military expert Petro Chernyk emphasizes the importance of F-16 fighters as a critical reinforcement for their army. He suggests that these American fighters, known for their capabilities, will be instrumental in countering the widespread destruction caused by Russian Su-34 bombers when paired with the right equipment.
The Su-34 bombers have been dropping bombs, including heavy glide bombs known as KABs, on Ukrainian positions. These bombs were once dubbed "wonder weapons" by analysts on the DeepState Telegram channel. Chernyk sees F-16 fighters as crucial in the defense against these KABs, highlighting their armament as potentially decisive.

F-16s poised to counter Russian forces

Chernyk asserts, "As soon as a Su-34 is detected, it's practically doomed. It might evade one F-16, but not two or three. A group of F-16s can cooperate to down multiple enemy Su-34s." In this context, he highlights the significance of the F-16's AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles.

AIM-120 AMRAAMs are air-to-air missiles with varying ranges, typically around 62 miles, though newer versions can reach targets up to 100 miles away. An F-16 can carry up to six of these missiles simultaneously. In contrast, the Su-34 bombers used by Russia release their bombs from a distance of 25 to nearly 43 miles.

Challenges in supplying F-16s to Ukraine

F-16 fighters offer a broader array of weaponry compared to current Ukrainian aviation and superior sensors and self-defense systems. They also promote "aggressive flying" techniques among Ukrainian pilots in training, reaching speeds of up to Mach 2 (over 1300 mph).

However, Ukraine's main challenge may lie not in the F-16s' capabilities but in the delays in receiving them. Although Western allies have pledged to send several units to the front, the earliest deliveries are expected this summer and will initially comprise only a few fighters.

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