Like several others interviewed for this report, the Pentagon’s calculations are unlikely to change anytime soon, but if the debate is “M1- ed,” Biden’s Recent work on the M1 Abrams tank Administration officials have suggested for months that sophisticated weapons would be too complex for Ukraine to sustain.
Another senior defense official wants to do more to help Ukraine within the Pentagon but feels their views are blocked by others who prefer a more cautious approach. The official acknowledged growing dissatisfaction among the people. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and some of his senior staff had been reluctant to approve the Abrams tank, but several weeks earlier, the official said. , advanced patriot missile systemBiden eventually did.
Pentagon spokesman Brig. General Patrick Ryder said the United States and its allies are providing short-term assistance to “maintain and enhance Ukraine’s existing aviation capabilities” and are discussing long-term needs with Ukraine. rice field. The Pentagon said in April that some allies agreed to provide spare parts for aircraft Ukraine already has.
“As the war remains fluid and dynamic, the nature of our assistance will adapt and adapt as needed to provide Ukraine with the training, equipment and capabilities necessary to be effective on the battlefield. It will continue to evolve,” Ryder said.
Ukraine’s request for additional fighter jets dates back to the opening weeks of the war almost a year ago. At the time, the Russian Air Force had dozens of Soviet-designed MiG-29 fighters, augmented by a handful of his Su-24, Su-25 and Su-27 jets. Ukrainian pilots flew them sparingly while facing a complex array of Russian surface-to-air missiles, several of which were shot down.
Ann Evaluation of the air battle over Ukraine According to the Royal United Service Institute in London, the Russian pilots were “highly effective and deadly” against their Ukrainian counterparts thanks to the aircraft’s long-range missiles and overall superior technology. Infused with new systems from the West, Ukraine’s air defense system is also improving, keeping the Russian Air Force at a distance from the battlefield, an assessment found. It suggested that even a small number of Western fighters could have a significant deterrent effect, even when facing Russian air defenses.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acted swiftly to supply the government with tanks, long-range missiles, air defense systems and F-16s at a gathering of American and European defense leaders in Germany in late January. A few days later, an agreement was reached to send tanks. Other requests remain elusive for now.
Ukrainians want the F-16 because there are more than 20 countries that fly the F-16, and there are tons of potential donors, said former Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptura. Told. Given the limited number of aircraft and spare parts available for the MiG-29, Ukraine will have to adopt Western aircraft at some point.
“What Ukraine needs is a game changer and that is air power,” said Deptura, dean of the Mitchell Aerospace Power Institute. “We have to stop thinking about what would happen if we provided air power and start thinking about what would happen if we did not.”
If the Biden administration had begun training experienced Ukrainian pilots last year how to fly the F-16, they would already be using it in combat, Deptura assessed. He estimates that fighter pilots trained in other aircraft can learn how to operate the platform within months.
Another retired Air Force general, Herbert Carlyle, also said he supported sending F-16s to Ukraine and starting pilot training, but he said he would start with a small number of experienced pilots and train them before expanding the program. Evaluate performance.
Carlisle, who chairs the board of think tank Stimson Center, said Ukraine also faces challenges in maintaining its planes. But “it’s not insurmountable.” To alleviate that burden up front, he recommends sending in planes that have recently undergone significant maintenance.
Other analysts are wary that the Biden administration continues to increase its involvement in the war. It is unreasonable to expect to be able to master the F-16, and with the continued threat of Russian air defenses, jets are a game changer.
“Even American F-16 pilots will struggle against Russian air defenses,” he said. “There’s no reason to think they’re immune to it.”
Davis said he didn’t think Russia would escalate the war just by offering F-16s, but if Ukraine threatened to take back Crimea, which it illegally annexed in 2014, Russia could take drastic measures. We may take action.
“It’s a different set of rules that puts us at risk if we don’t realize we’re dealing with nuclear powers,” Davis said. “It’s utterly reckless.”