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Ukraine’s Air Force says F-16 fighters, not A-10 attack aircraft, are priority for Ukraine

In Europe
January 13, 2024

The priority for the aviation of Ukraine’s Air Force remains obtaining F-16 multi-role fighters from Western partners to gain air superiority, after which, in the future, options for attack aircraft and attack helicopters can be considered to support ground troops directly.

Source: Colonel Yurii Ihnat, Spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force, in a comment to Ukrainska Pravda

Quote: “The position of the Air Force regarding the receiving of Western aircraft remains: the priority is F-16s, which our pilots are currently training on. There may be different modifications, but [these are] exactly multi-purpose aircraft capable of operating on air, ground and surface targets. Therefore, the F-16 is multifunctional and can perform a number of these functions with a wide range of weapons.”

Details: The representative of the Air Force notes that the A-10 aircraft, on which the commander of the Ground Forces previously commented, performs a single function: it can provide fire support for ground troops, delivering powerful strikes on enemy positions on the ground.

In addition, the A-10 aircraft is much more expensive to maintain than the F-16.

“The A-10 platform will be too burdensome for the Air Force; we simply do not have enough resources to develop this aircraft, both material and human,” says Ihnat.

The Armed Forces of Ukraine employ Soviet-made ground attack aircraft – these are Su-25s, which provide close air support together with helicopters of the army aviation and the Air Force (Mi-24s, Mi-8s). In addition, there are two types of MiG-29 fighters, Su-27s, Su-24M frontline bombers, and transport aviation.

“It is clear that air support is very important for the Ground Forces. But this function is performed by Su-25s and helicopters,” the Air Force spokesperson adds.

In conditions when the enemy has a lot of air defence equipment on the contact line and enjoys air superiority, in particular in the occupied territories, where powerful Russian Su-35 aircraft systems threaten Ukrainian aircraft, the use of close support aircraft is significantly limited, the officer explains.

Ukrainian pilots typically attack Russians by the method of pitching, that is, lifting the nose cone and firing rockets on a ballistic trajectory.

Ihnat emphasises that the prerequisite for success is to gain air superiority, which can be provided by both the F-16s and medium- and long-range anti-aircraft missile systems.

Quote: “And after that, it may be possible to effectively use assault aircraft for their intended purpose to support ground troops, as well as combat helicopters, including western-style ones, which our brothers in the army aviation want to obtain (we are talking about the Apaches, the Black Hawks, etc.).

Of course, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ground Forces, would like to see more air support, but Ukraine has not sent an official request to provide us with A-10 aircraft. Today, the No. 1 issue is the development of the F-16s.”

Background:

  • In an interview with Reuters, Colonel-General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of the Ground Forces, said that Kyiv needs more military aircraft for combat operations, such as American A-10 attack aircraft, to support infantry.

  • According to the Colonel-General, Ukraine needs aircraft that can launch long-range cruise missiles.

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