F-16 is not a 'wonder weapon': Romanenko explained what the fighter jets will provide to Ukraine and the targets they will be able to engage
Once Ukraine acquires F-16 fighters, the "gifts" to the Russian Federation will be more substantial than before. However, these aircraft are not a "miracle weapon" in themselves, as they represent a mid-level modernization of production.
According to former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Lieutenant General Ihor Romanenko, in an interview with OBOZ.UA. He predicts that the F-16s will not be initially equipped with the most advanced weapons.
"F-16 is not a Wunderwaffen (translated from German as 'miracle weapon' - ed.), as many people hope. Because the aircraft themselves are a mid-level modernization of production. In addition, these aircraft will not be equipped with the latest, most advanced weapons. At least at the initial stage, for sure," he stated.
Romanenko emphasized that the Ukrainian Armed Forces require F-16s to implement a long-range air defense system, where fighter aircraft play a crucial role.
"Such aircraft can engage aerodynamic targets, as we discussed. However, only the latest models of both F-16s and their aviation weapons can engage ballistic targets," explained the former deputy chief of the General Staff.
He added that the United States could have provided Ukraine with F-16s much earlier, by the end of 2023, as announced. However, the transfer process is once again being slowed down for various reasons.
"Various reasons are cited, such as permission for training, pilot training, etc. Pilot training can always be conducted; there are no limits to perfection. There have always been reasons to postpone deliveries, and there always will be. But we genuinely need these capabilities right now," Romanenko stated.
Regarding the "gift" to the Kremlin dictator for Putin's "election," the lieutenant general pointed out that Russians have been very sensitive to dates since the Soviet Union.
"We know how Putin constantly postpones deadlines for completing certain tasks to significant dates for him, as political goals in the Kremlin prevail over military ones," he remarked.
However, Romanenko stressed the importance for Ukraine to consider objective military circumstances rather than purely political ones.
"But if they coincide, that's also good, because our struggle is military-political, and we use military means to achieve political goals. But for this, we need additional opportunities. Our allies should help us so that we can make 'gifts' to Putin," he emphasized.
The lieutenant general expressed his wish for the West to find an opportunity to transfer weapons so that such a "gift" to Putin could be made to the Armed Forces before the elections.
As reported by OBOZ.UA:
- "The Pentagon said that the pilots of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are likely to complete training on American F-16s in the United States by the end of 2024. They cannot give any more specific dates yet.
- On December 22, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the preparation of the first 18 F-16s for delivery to Ukraine.
- The first batch of F-16s sent to Ukraine will be modified, said Yurii Ihnat, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force.
- At the end of December, ISW said that Ukraine could soon receive the first batch of F-16s in accordance with the commitments of the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Belgium.