Copenhagen has received permission from Washington to transfer American F-16 fighters to Ukraine, Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said. According to him, this is stated in a corresponding letter from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. The White House confirmed that the fighters will be delivered to the Armed Forces of Ukraine upon completion of the training of Ukrainian pilots. However, experts consider the decision to send F-16s to Kyiv rather a symbolic step, designed to demonstrate Western support for the Ukrainian authorities. Analysts agree that this is unlikely to fundamentally change the situation on the battlefield.
Copenhagen received permission from Washington to transfer American F-16 fighters to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. This was announced by Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen on the air of Danish Radio.
“I can confirm that the secretary of defense and I wrote to colleagues in the United States about our options. And so we received a friendly letter from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, which gives us certain options for action … This means that there is no longer a barrier to being able to do this (deliver the F-16 to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. – RT ),” RIA Novosti quotes Rasmussen .
Earlier that the United States approved the transfer of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands to Kyiv upon completion of the training of Ukrainian pilots, Reuters reported, citing Blinken’s corresponding letter.
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“I am writing to express the full support of the United States both in terms of transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and in training Ukrainian pilots by qualified F-16 instructors,” the US Secretary of State was quoted as saying.
According to Reuters, Blinken’s letter also said that the approval of requests to send F-16s to the Armed Forces of Ukraine will allow Ukraine “to take full advantage of its new capabilities, as soon as the first set of pilots complete their training.”
In turn, the Minister of Defense of the Netherlands, Kaisa Ollongren, on the social network welcomed the US decision to “clear the way for the supply of F-16 fighters to Ukraine.” According to her, this will allow the country to complete the training of Ukrainian pilots. Ollongren also noted that the Netherlands remains “in close contact” with European partners to decide “on the next steps.”
Subsequently, the White House confirmed that the transfer of the F-16 to Ukraine will take place after the completion of pilot training. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan clarified during the briefing that Washington is “working on this with Congress” and allies.
Recall, according to Reuters, a coalition of 11 countries will begin to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets in August. It is assumed that the first results of such training should appear in early 2024. NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands are leading the West’s efforts to train pilots as well as aircraft maintenance support staff “and eventually enable Ukraine to start using F-16 fighter jets,” Reuters reported.
F-16 fighter jet © US Air Force via AP
However, according to the agency, US officials privately admit that the F-16 fighters “would do little to help Ukraine in its current counter-offensive.”
“And when they (F-16 aircraft. – RT ) finally arrive at the scene, they will not fundamentally change the situation, given the Russian air defense systems and the struggle for airspace over Ukraine,” writes Reuters, citing sources.
On August 17, Sky News also reported that the supply of F-16 aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine would not be decisive on the battlefield, since these fighters represent “only one component of a vast set of assets necessary to form an effective air potential.”
Can’t change the situation
Recall that on July 20, John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the US National Security Council, said in an interview with Fox News that F-16 fighters would arrive in Ukraine, probably by the end of this year, but most likely they would not be able to “change the situation there.”
In turn, in a conversation with CNN, Anthony Blinken said that the Armed Forces of Ukraine would receive F-16 aircraft, but it would take several months for their transmission.
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On August 8, Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh announced in an interview with reporters that US President Joe Biden approved the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets by Kyiv’s Western partners.
As The Washington Post later reported, citing high-ranking Ukrainian officials and the military, the first group of six pilots of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will not finish training on the F-16 until next summer.
At the same time, the deliveries of these fighters themselves will begin no earlier than 2024, Yuriy Ignat, adviser to the command of the air forces of the Ukrainian troops, said on the air of the telethon.
As John Kirby explained on August 17, the United States, together with partners, are working on options for transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from third countries.
The Russian authorities consider plans to transfer F-16 aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a move towards escalating the situation in Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that Moscow would regard this move “as a threat from the West in the nuclear sphere,” since these fighters could carry nuclear weapons.
Messages about Washington’s “permission” for the transfer of F-16s by Copenhagen and Amsterdam were criticized in the Federation Council of the Russian Federation. As Senator Alexei Pushkov said in Telegram, such a US move is aimed at creating the illusion that the US authorities support Kyiv.
“Sending F-16s to Ukraine is a politically significant, but mostly symbolic step. It is important for the United States to demonstrate its stubborn support for Ukraine, and the transfer of several military aircraft through allies, even if next year, is intended to serve as confirmation, ”Pushkov wrote.
According to him, the situation for the United States and Ukraine is not getting better, and the transfer of several F-16 fighters “is designed to create the illusion of a military perspective” for Kyiv with the West.
In turn, State Duma deputy from the Crimean region Mikhail Sheremet told RIA Novosti that the receipt of F-16 aircraft by the Armed Forces of Ukraine will not affect the course of the special operation, since these fighters will start to burn no worse than German Leopard tanks and other Western military equipment.
“The special operation in Ukraine has already dispelled the myth of the superiority and invincibility of Western weapons,” Sheremet said.
“The process is long”
From the point of view of RISS expert Sergei Ermakov, the course of agreeing on a decision on the supply of F-16 fighters in the West suggests that this issue is being resolved there “quite tensely and hard.”
“Until now, NATO countries have not come to a compromise either on the exact timing of the transfer of these aircraft, or their number. But for now, given that the United States has allowed sending F-16s only to Denmark and the Netherlands, we are not talking about a large batch, but about a kind of “carrot” for the Kiev regime, which is designed to show that the West will continue to support it,” said the analyst in an RT comment.
From a practical point of view, this does not solve anything for Kyiv on the battlefield, Yermakov is sure.
“Since in order for the F-16s to show themselves constructively during hostilities, there must be more than a hundred of them in the batch, moreover, integrated with the NATO reconnaissance, target designation system and with modern missiles. But for such supplies, Copenhagen and Amsterdam simply do not have the resources, ”the analyst said in a comment to RT.
The US permission to supply F-16s also looks like an attempt to boost the morale of the Armed Forces of Ukraine against the backdrop of the failure of their so-called counter-offensive, Yermakov said. However, according to him, the actual transfer of fighters can begin only after a year at least.
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“The fact is that now for the adoption, maintenance and operation of such equipment in Ukraine there is no appropriate infrastructure and military trained for this. Not to mention the fact that even trained pilots will have to make difficult decisions related to the combat support of these aircraft, as well as their weapons, ”says Ermakov.
A similar opinion is shared by military political scientist Ivan Konovalov. According to him, even if the Kyiv regime manages to prepare the appropriate infrastructure within a year, “this does not mean that it will not become a target for the RF Armed Forces.”
“Even now, when Kyiv is only planning to create conditions for the adoption and use of the F-16, the Russian Armed Forces are striking at the infrastructure facilities of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which are being carefully and methodically destroyed. And this is already a huge problem for the Ukrainian Air Force, ”Konovalov said in a comment to RT.
In addition, he believes that a lot of time will be spent on training the military personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to pilot F-16 fighters.
“Training pilots to use such equipment is a long process, especially considering that to fly the F-16 you need to know English, which not everyone in the Armed Forces knows. Considering that this educational process will be extended in time, deliveries will be carried out in small batches. But such a strategy is doomed to failure, since the fighters will be quickly eliminated by the RF Armed Forces, ”the expert concluded.