TechUkraine to receive F-16 fighters. Russia may respond with Su-57

Ukraine to receive F‑16 fighters. Russia may respond with Su‑57

Images source: © theaviationgeekclub

9:06 AM EST, December 5, 2023

The National Interest has reported that Ukraine is set to receive F-16 fighters from Western allies. In response, Russia could potentially deploy its Su-57 aircraft, which it has so far used sparingly in the ongoing conflict. But how does Russia's fifth-generation fighter contrast with the American-made fourth-generation fighters?

The first F-16 fighters could arrive in Ukraine as early as next spring. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin shared this information at a press conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on October 11. These planes will be transferred from Denmark and the Netherlands. The two countries could donate about 60 aircraft, primarily planes that have already been in active service in their respective air forces for several years. This doesn’t mean that their technical condition is unsatisfactory. However, the Ukrainians will need to maintain these machines, a task that requires trained service technicians and necessary spare parts.

F-16 fighters destined for Ukraine

The F-16 Fighting Falcon, a versatile fourth-generation fighter, was designed by the American corporation General Dynamics and has been in production since the mid-70s. It is currently manufactured by Lockheed Martin and used by numerous countries. Thanks to their reliability, the Americans continue to refine and update these machines. The latest models, the Block 70/72 version, are considered the most advanced fourth-generation fighters ever built. However, this model won't be heading to Ukraine. Instead, Ukraine will receive F-16 AM and F-16 BM versions, which are some of the oldest versions still in use.

The F-16 A model is a single-seat version, and the F-16 B model accommodates two seats. These fighters are approximately 49 feet long, with a wingspan of about 33 feet and a weight of around 9.4 tons. They can reach speeds of up to 1522 mph and cover distances of approximately 1988 miles (or even 2617 miles with additional fuel tanks). The Western-made fighters destined for Ukraine could be crucial in carrying Western weapons and other systems such as electronic warfare, surveillance, or targeting instruments. Most aircraft equipment developed and evolved in the West during recent decades, including the highly effective AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles, can be attached to these planes.

The Su-57, or more accurately the Suchoi Su-57, was designed to replace the aging fleet of MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters. Western experts suggest that Russia's fifth-generation fighter was developed as an answer to the American Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF) program and the American F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter. The development of the Su-57 began in 2001, but it wasn't until January 2010 that its prototype took to the skies. Russia initially planned for the aircraft to enter service between 2017 and 2018, but didn't start full-scale production until 2019. Depending on the source, reports claim that Moscow currently has between 10 and 15 Su-57 fighters.

The Su-57 fighter is equipped with stealth technology, designed to make it difficult to detect by conventional observation methods. This fighter jet measures over 66 feet long, 15 feet high, and has a wingspan of about 46 feet. It can reach speeds in excess of 1522 mph. The jet's standard armament features a 30 mm 9A-4071K cannon and six internal and external weapon slots for missiles, such as the Kh-59 air-to-ground missile.

According to The National Interest, one of the Su-57's main advantages over the F-16 might be better synchronization with ground radars. An extensive data transfer system could facilitate faster responses and target engagement. On the other hand, achieving such synchronization might be challenging or even impossible with the F-16. Western fighters were designed to function as part of a larger system. For instance, the Ukrainian F-16s will lack access to the Link 16 protocol, which is a critical element during military operations. Link 16 is a communication system that facilitates information exchange between air, sea, and land platforms, thereby enabling the military to share crucial data between weapon and command systems.

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