The F-15 and F-16 fighter jets are regarded as two of the greatest in the world, so what has kept NATO from approving an offer to give these weapons to Ukraine?
According to a statement on the Ukrainian Air Force’s official Twitter page, the Ukrainian Air Force has requested that NATO deploy Western jets such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle to assist this force in dealing with the Russian Federation’s military assault. Russia. According to the statement, the Ukrainian Air Force deems the possession of these aircraft important because they are advanced weapons that may assist improve their power. Ukraine believes that its pilots can be educated and ready to fly US-made jets in as little as two or three weeks. According to military analysts, controlling the F-15 or F-16 on the battlefield takes more time than the pilot training a skilled manipulator.
While pilots may quickly master the mechanics of operating a new cockpit, entering combat and dealing with battlefield scenarios is difficult. Surviving a war is challenging even for seasoned American pilots who have spent more time flying F-15s and F-16s than pilots from other countries. According to analysts, NATO is likely to reject Ukraine’s proposal because it is not only a difficult task, but it may also provide little benefits in comparison to giving other weaponry while posing a few more risks.
Why does Ukraine seek F-15 and F-16 fighter jets?
Despite recent improvements in relations with the West, Ukraine’s military stockpile is mostly comprised of Soviet-era weapons. The Ukrainian Air Force currently operates two kinds of fighter aircraft: the Sukhoi Su-27 and the Mikoyan MiG-29. As a result, Western efforts to supply Ukraine with fighter jets are mostly focused on the fleet of MiG-29s, which are claimed to be simple to fly for Ukrainian pilots. The MiG-29 and Su-27 first joined the Russian squadrons in 1982 and 1985, respectively, whereas the F-16 and F-15 entered service in 1978 and 1976, respectively. Over the last few decades, the United States and its allies have steadily improved and modernised their fighter fleet. These planes may lack the capacity to fly around radar or be invisible to it, yet they are nonetheless incredibly powerful in combat. Russia also made numerous modifications, giving its air force a significant advantage over the Ukrainian air force during the fight. As a result, Ukraine feels that if it is equipped with stronger Western fighters, it will be able to better withstand Russian attacks.
Difficulty in training and upkeep
The shift from other fighters to the F-16 was difficult. Pilots in the United States must train for 6 weeks to undertake this mission. It was considerably more challenging for Ukrainian pilots because they were accustomed to operating Soviet-era jets. As a result, it may take them a long time to efficiently control the F-16 or F-15 in combat. Ukraine maintains that its pilots can adjust to the transition in two or three weeks, but experts say it is unrealistic given the challenges Ukraine is experiencing in the current combat situation.
The United States Air Force offers a training programme designed exclusively for F-16 pilots. Although these pilots are accustomed to flying American fighters, they nevertheless require extensive training. Meanwhile, Ukrainian pilots have little experience with American aircraft, and they have never flown an F-16. As a result, they find it tough to master them on the battlefield. Not to mention the exceedingly difficult maintenance tasks. Each F-16 requires 16 hours of maintenance for every hour of flight, and a maintenance team is required on a regular basis to assess and rectify faults with the aircraft. Each aircraft requires 25 maintenance people, according to the US Air Force 332d Expeditionary Force, which now operates both the F-15E Strike Eagle and the F-16C Fighting Falcon. Cadets must complete five advanced training courses at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, to become an Air Force tactical aircraft maintenance technician. Each course lasts approximately 18 months. Furthermore, there should be a large amount of specialist equipment and businesses that provide equipment and spare parts. Currently, Ukraine lacks the infrastructure to maintain these aircraft, and building such facilities in this time of war is extremely challenging.
It’s no different than declaring war on Russia.
Because Ukraine is so near to Russia, Russian air forces can launch missiles at Ukrainian targets without having to cross the border. Similar to Russia’s integrated air defence system, which is primarily based on AWACS (Early Warning and Control System), it can extend its operational range beyond the country’s borders. In that case, the F-15s and F-16s charged with intercepting Russian air strikes would be forced to fly inside Russian territory to engage the fighter jets, aircraft, and aircraft. These actions were aided by bombers and AWACS systems. That would cause major issues with NATO. The introduction of NATO-supplied aircraft into Russian airspace is tantamount to NATO’s “direct declaration of war” against Moscow, with the potential for the conflict to spread beyond Ukraine’s borders. To counter the threat presented by these warplanes, Russia might strike supply lines to Ukraine, such as Poland.
It is difficult to alter the combat scenario.
According to military analysts, NATO is unable of equipping Ukraine with the necessary number of F-15 or F-16 jets to match the Russian air force’s power. Russia has over 1,500 combat aircraft, making it the world’s second largest air force. Ukraine also entered the war with less than 100 planes. As a result, sending dozens or even hundreds of fighters to Ukraine is extremely difficult in order to change the battlefield situation. Ukraine can request the supply of F-15 and F-16 fighter jets because it understands that having them is preferable than not having them. However, when it comes to safeguarding airspace or hitting targets on the ground, especially when Ukraine is confronted with an overwhelming Russian military force, the benefits of giving these planes do not compare to the hazards they entail.