“Ukraine needs 128 fighters to replace the old aircraft fleet – this number is prescribed in the vision of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” said Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesman for the Air Force Command of Ukraine, according to state news agency Ukrinform.
He said if 42 fighter jets are handed over to Ukraine, this is approximately four aviation brigades.
“It is clear that war can make adjustments, but more than 100 aircraft are really needed to disperse them to different airfields so that they respond to different challenges and strike different targets: aircraft, land, enemy's rear, in particular,” Ihnat stressed.
The Netherlands and Denmark committed on Sunday to send up to 42 F-16s to Ukraine during Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit.
Ukraine has long argued for strong air defenses to protect against Russian aerial assaults and be capable to return fire. Earlier this month, Zelenskyy stressed that Ukraine’s defenses were not yet capable of protecting its whole territory against Russian attacks.
He said: “Unfortunately, our state does not yet have enough high-quality air defense systems to protect our entire territory and shoot down all enemy targets. The enemy is taking advantage of this.”
Zelenskyy has persistently urged Western allies to provide Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets and emphasized that their presence alongside Ukrainian pilots would serve as a powerful global signal that Russia's invasion would ultimately end in failure.
Achieving air supremacy would allow Ukraine to conduct operations unaffected by Russian forces’ aircraft or anti-aircraft systems due to their aerial dominance and power. In war, air supremacy is the highest level of control over the air.
Should Ukraine achieve air supremacy it would be able to conduct a wide range of missions including aerial bombardments, close air support for ground troops, reconnaissance, and transportation with relative impunity.