Air Force expects first batch of F-16s to appear in Ukraine in spring 2024

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The Ukrainian Air Force expects the first batch of F-16 fighter jets to appear in Ukraine in the spring of 2024, spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on Monday.

“Every official in Europe or in the US… announces… different dates. We are relying on spring, because if the process of training our pilots with aviation instructors has already begun, then, in principle, I think we can count on the statements made by the Ukrainian authorities,” Ihnat said.

The Ukrainian official stated that a total of 150 modern fighter jets could effectively protect Ukraine's airspace. “If the outdated fleet of Soviet equipment could be replaced with modern F-16s and other types of aircraft, it would help fulfil a number of important tasks.”

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“With the arrival of only F-16s in our country, the situation will not change dramatically, but it will have a significant impact,” Ihnat stressed.

“We want to get this equipment as soon as possible, and nothing can be faster than the F-16. Therefore, we are looking forward to our pilots' training. The training process is really not easy, infrastructure preparation is not easy, [and] engineer training is not easy either,” the spokesman added.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin said earlier this October that it “would take months” to deliver an F-16 capability to Ukraine, potentially by the spring of 2024 “at the earliest”.

Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier this month that Moscow was reinforcing its western borders in preparation for US-manufactured F-16 fighter jets being supplied to Ukraine next year.

“The US and its allies are transferring armored vehicles, air defense systems, and high-precision missiles to Ukraine. In violation of international conventions, Washington included cluster munitions in military assistance packages,” Shoigu said as cited by state news agency TASS.

He added: “The issue of transferring F-16 tactical fighters to Kyiv has moved into practical terms. Their arrival is expected in the future. In response to these threats, we are taking appropriate measures and strengthening our western borders.”

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