Ukraine's liberation of Crimea hinges on F‑16 power and Western aid, suggests military expert
Czernyk suggests that the key to recapturing Crimea is demolishing the Crimean Bridge and establishing air dominance over the peninsula. Successful execution of these objectives, he argues, requires aid in the form of weaponry, particularly F-16 fighters and long-range missiles, from the West.
F-16 as a key player in an attempt to liberate Crimea
"The Crimean bridge must be destroyed. If that happens, we can achieve this strategic goal. Additionally, it's crucial to control the airspace over the peninsula by eliminating all airborne threats. This would be feasible with an F-16, which can use long-range missiles with a striking distance of up to 560 miles, allowing the plane to avoid entering the enemies' fire range," said Czernyk in a Ukrainian radio broadcast.
Other experts have previously deemed the F-16 as a vital asset for Ukraine. A point of contention, however, is that the quantity pledged thus far won't suffice. It's estimated that around 120 F-16 fighters are required to establish full air superiority over Russian forces, a view suggested by General Mykola Malomuzh and Ukraine's Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat.
Key characteristics of the F-16
The F-16 is a high-performance machine, capable of reaching speeds of up to 2 Mach (over 1305 mph) and operating at altitudes of up to 9 miles. While the aircraft comes standard with a six-barrel M61 Vulcan 20 mm cannon, its ability to carry a broad range of additional armaments is a notable feature. These include air-to-air AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-9 Sidewinder, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-65 Maverick, anti-ship AGM-84D Harpoon and Penguin missiles, and even CBU-87, CBU-89, GBU-10, GBU-12, Paveway, or JDAM bombs.
According to Czernyk, the United States and its allies have ample resources to address the situation in Crimea. However, they are currently hesitant to act due to Ukraine's perceived unwarranted fears of conflict escalation.
Recently, Kyiv has looked to additional Western fighters to supplement the F-16. The city is making an effort to acquire Swedish JAS 39 Gripen and French Mirage-2000D fighters and is even considering the Australian F/A-18 Hornet fighters.