Why Can’t NATO Give Ukraine F-15 Or F-16 Fighter Jets?

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Why Can’t NATO Give Ukraine F-15 Or F-16 Fighter Jets
NATO Give Ukraine F-15 Or F-16 Fighter Jets
F-16 (photo: https://www.youtube.com/MilitaryTVOfficial)

Why Can't Give Or Fighter Jets? – Ukraine's official Twitter account demanded that NATO provide them with Western fighter jets such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle to help them in their war against . According to the social media statement, Ukraine's Air Force considers obtaining these jets to be critical aspect to the country's defence since they provide modern systems that are better than those used by the .

Arming Ukraine with such as the multi-purpose F-16 or the air superiority champion F-15 is a lot more difficult task than many people believe. Not only would this be a massive undertaking, but it would also be unlikely to provide a meaningful gain over less risky alternatives.

The F-16 was originally designed to be a lightweight air superiority fighter that has since demonstrated a great deal of value as a multi-role aircraft. The F-15 comes with an even more impressive reputation, and in fact, the Eagle is the most dominant air superiority fighter of its era and probably others. There is no other fighter in the sky with the proven dogfighting capabilities of the F-15, which has a documented combat record of 104 air victories and zero losses.

Anyway, the following explanations discuss several reasons why the F-15 Or F-16 Fighter Jets can't be given to Ukraine.

First, it requires a minimum of 6 weeks to train American fighters pilots transition to the F-16 from another jets. As Ukraine's pilots are accustomed to the cockpits of Soviet-era jets, it takes some time for them to become used to flying the F-16 or F-15 in the battle. Ukraine believe they can complete the shift just two or three weeks, while this seems extremely doubtful. The Air Force currently has a training in place to train existing fighter pilots to fly an F-16 Fighting Falcon, and although these pilots are already familiar with American jets just unlike Ukrainian pilots, the course still takes around six weeks.

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The other reason is that the Air Force employs 25 maintainers for every one tactical aircraft. While all fighter jets are not created equal, there is one universal truth when it comes to operating them. It takes a ton of maintenance, even aircraft like the F-16, which are known for their low operating cost, it still requires a lot of maintenance. In fact, for every hour spent flying, an F-16 requires around 16 hours of maintenance.

To be an Air Force tactical aircraft maintenance technician, Airmen are required to complete five advanced training courses at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas. It takes each technician around 18 months to complete their job-specific training before they're sent to their fleet units where they'll continue to undergo on-the-job training until they're fully proficient at their jobs. These highly trained maintenance techs then rely on specialized equipment and a massive logistical enterprise to keep them supplied with the materials they need to maintain their aircraft. This would require new infrastructure Ukraine doesn't already have, from a place to put specialized equipment to a means to get regular shipments of Western parts to Ukrainian airstrips.

The next point to mention is that Ukraine would have to take F-15s and F-16s into Russia to win the skies.
As we've already discussed regarding the establishment of a NATO-enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine, advanced Russian air defence systems like the S-400 have an operational range of around 250 miles. That means Ukrainian fighters would need to engage air defence systems inside Russia and potentially even Belarus to take control of their airspace. Otherwise, these air defence platforms could continue to shoot down Ukrainian jets that strayed too close to Russian territory. But Russian air defence systems aren't the biggest reason Ukraine would need to send its newly gained F-15 and F-16 fleets into Russia, the biggest reason is that most Russian airstrikes are launched by aircraft that never leave Russian airspace.

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Because Ukraine is so close to Russia's border, Russian soldiers have the ability to fly hundreds of sorties per day, launching missiles toward Ukrainian targets without ever actually flying across the border into Ukraine itself. Similarly, to extend their reach beyond the curvature of the earth, Russian integrated air defence systems rely largely on airborne AWACS (airborne early warning and control systems). Ukraine's F-15s and F-16s tasked with stopping the onslaught of Russian airstrikes would have no choice but to fly into Russia to engage fighters, bombers, and AWACS supporting these airstrike operations. This poses a problem for NATO nations who would be supplying Ukraine with not just the aircraft, but the training, equipment, and munitions needed to operate them.

The last reason is that Ukraine would lose a large number of fighters and the war would certainly continue. There is no chance that NATO could provide Ukraine with enough F-15 or F-16 airframes to offset Russia's massive numerical advantage in the region. Russia has some 1,500-combat aircraft, making it the second-largest air force in the world. Ukraine began the war with fewer than 100, and now has closer to 50. Providing Ukraine with even dozens of western fighters wouldn't be enough to put them on even footing.

Instead, Ukrainian pilots in jets they only barely knew would fly into combat against Russian pilots who have trained in their own respective aircraft for years. Then they'd land their fighters on airstrips that would be targeted for repeated missile strikes, where techs and maintainers who only have a few weeks' training on these platforms would have to turn them around and get them back into the fight extremely quickly.

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Even if things went exceedingly well for Ukrainian aviators, as they have certainly shown their ability to do a great deal with very little, this influx of fighters along with all the required training, equipment, materials, and munitions would not be enough to push Russian forces back into their own territory. Russia has more than 150,000 troops operating in Ukraine. While providing these jets may cause the crisis to spread beyond Ukraine's borders, it's unclear that it will be enough to put a stop to the violence within the country.

As many have pointed out, controlling Ukrainian airspace with air defence systems is far more cost-effective than providing fighter jets to do the same task. Of course, air defense systems require training and logistics, but by providing Ukraine with systems they already have, such as the Soviet S-300, which is used by a small number of NATO countries, they could engage Russian aircraft and cruise missiles without the need for additional training or infrastructure.

Ultimately, Ukraine may request F-15 and F-16 fleets because they know having some fighters even ones they may struggle to operate, which is obviously better than none. However, based on the limited value these aircraft could provide in securing Ukraine's airspace, even in engaging ground targets in airstrikes while heavily outnumbered and being targeted by Russian air defences inside and outside of Ukraine, it simply isn't the most effective or viable way to provide support. Ukraine needs help and a great deal of it, but the aim has to be protecting the people of Ukraine without expanding the conflict into a greater war. Providing Ukraine with F-15 or F-16 airframes would certainly help them, but not enough to be worth the cost or the risk when compared to other options.

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