TechUkraine's pilots embrace F-16 fighters, likening shift to going from Nokia to iPhone

Ukraine's pilots embrace F‑16 fighters, likening shift to going from Nokia to iPhone

The F-16 cockpit provides the pilot with excellent visibility.
The F-16 cockpit provides the pilot with excellent visibility.
Images source: © Public domain | SSG CAYCEE R. COOK
7:11 AM EST, February 28, 2024
At the Skrydstrup base, six pilots and dozens of personnel are being trained for the future maintenance of the F-16's technical efficiency. Zhenia Melnyk, a correspondent for United24—a platform operated by the Ukrainian government to fund the Armed Forces of Ukraine—visited the base to talk with "Moonfish". During their conversation, significant distinctions between Western and Soviet machines were highlighted.
"Moonfish" emphasized that the F-16's avionics are notably simpler and more pilot-friendly. He likened the transition from Soviet aircraft to Western fighters as "going from a Nokia to an iPhone." He further remarked, "Flying this jet is really great fun. While I'm not saying the MiG I previously flew is super boring, the F-16 is definitely more maneuverable. It feels as though the jet encourages you to fly more aggressively."
Ukraine is poised to receive about 60 F-16 fighters from Western countries. But before these aircraft can be deployed, Ukrainian pilots must complete rigorous training with Western allies. Transitioning to these more modern fighters marks a significant shift. The Ukrainians have been using Su-27 or MiG-29 until now, which vary greatly in capabilities from the newer F-16s.

The expected arrival of these fighters in Ukraine will facilitate the creation of three or four squadrons. Their primary role will be to defend against Russian aerial incursions. The aircraft is versatile, capable of engaging in both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations, as well as disrupting the electronic signals of Russian radars within Ukraine and along its borders.

F-16 fighters, designed and manufactured by Lockheed Martin, measure 49.37 feet in length and have a wingspan of about 31 feet. They can reach speeds of around Mach 2, or close to 1522 mph. A key advantage of these aircraft is their capability to carry a wide variety of weapons. Lockheed Martin's website highlights over 36 years of experience in weapon integration with F-16s, allowing these multirole fighters to be equipped with about 180 different types of armaments.
The primary weapon of the F-16 is the M61A 20 mm cannon. Additionally, it can be fitted with guided air-to-ground missiles (AGM-65G2 Maverick), bombs (Mk82 or Mk84), or radar-guided medium-range air-to-air missiles (AIM-120C-5).
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