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Ukraine may receive F-16s in June, according to media: Air Force comments

Ukraine may receive F-16s in June, according to media: Air Force comments F-16 fighter jet (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

The Ukrainian Air Force neither confirms nor denies that Ukraine will receive F-16 fighters in June, refusing to talk about the timing. At the same time, they note that Ukraine is already adapting its infrastructure for this type of aircraft, according to Yurii Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force Command.

"The only thing I can confirm is that there is indeed an action plan, and it is being implemented. Our partners are ready to hand over the aircraft to Ukraine. Those countries that have agreed to do so. Of course, it is not only about the transfer, but also about further maintenance of the aircraft, financing of this process, and modernization of the F-16. Because the aircraft is constantly being repaired and modernized. The countries that provide us with the aircraft certainly also assist in pilot training. In training engineers, officers, ground staff, and others. Because we also need to pay for training," he says.

That is why, according to the spokesperson, an aviation coalition of many countries has been created to help carry out all these processes simultaneously.

"At some point, soon, I would like to say the time when the first F-16s will appear in the sky and help us drive the Russian occupiers away from the borders," Ihnat adds.

Is infrastructure ready?

Commenting on the readiness of the infrastructure to receive the fighter jets in June, the spokesperson notes that "infrastructure and its readiness is a very complicated concept."

"So it will probably take years to prepare it thoroughly. The ideal thing today would be to hide everything underground, as Iran does, and have complete peace of mind. To build such reinforced concrete storage facilities that would withstand ballistic missiles. You can see the craters that form after ballistic missiles, and you need to protect the aircraft. Well, first of all, passive defense means shelters and infrastructure. Second, the infrastructure must be protected by air defense. Against ballistics, cruise missiles, and drones. Therefore, this all happens in a complex," he explains.

Ihnat adds that Ukraine is already adapting its infrastructure to this type of aircraft.

"Adaptation is what will allow it to perform tasks from our runways and stay on our airfields. Therefore, we will not talk about the timing (of receiving the F-16 - ed.). The question is that we need this aircraft as soon as possible," the military emphasizes.

F-16 for Ukraine

On February 18, Foreign Policy reported that Ukraine could receive the first F-16 fighters in the summer of 2024. This is likely to be in June.

On February 17, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the process of transferring F-16s to Ukraine is on schedule. Ukraine is to receive more than 20 combat aircraft.

In October 2023, the Ukrainian Air Force expressed hope that the first F-16s would probably arrive in Ukraine in the spring of 2024. About 150 aircraft would be enough to effectively protect the country's airspace. The same opinion was expressed by the head of the Defense Intelligence of Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov.