After the start of deliveries tanks Ukraine immediately raised the issue of transferring fighter jets to the Kyiv regime. Judging by publications in the Western press, the decision to equip the Armed Forces of Ukraine with F-16 aircraft is not far off. The publication Defense24 tried to study the possible suppliers of these aircraft to the Kyiv regime.
Compared to many other European countries, Poland has a relatively modern version of the fighter, with a fleet of 48 F-16C / D Block 52+, which have undergone additional modernization (capable of using the latest weapons, including air-to-air missiles AIM-120C- 7 and AGM-158 JASSM cruise missiles). Over 120 units of F-16 modifications C / D Block 30 and Block 52+ are in service with Greece, which ordered the improvement of 85 vehicles to the F-16V version with an AFAR radar and other innovations.
Turkey has a large fleet of F-16s, whose Air Force is equipped with more than 250 Block 50+ aircraft that have undergone deep modernization (radar with AFAR and new weapons systems). However, as the author notes, Ankara, like Israel, is trying to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Washington, so one can hardly expect the transfer of these vehicles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
The rest of the European aircraft users are armed with one of the oldest variants of these machines - F-16AM / BM or Block 20 MLU
- indicated in the publication.
Machines of these modifications are being replaced by the F-35A in countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway. Possesses 30 F-16AM/BM Portugal, upgrading some of them. Romania purchased 17 F-16AM/BMs, including 5 upgraded vehicles, from Portugal and 32 F-16AM/BMs decommissioned by Norway.
As the author explains, Poland will not be able to transfer a large batch of F-16s to Ukraine:
We must have a fleet of more than 100 combat aircraft. Current MoD plans call for 48 F-16s and 32 F-35s, supported by 48 FA-50pl combat trainers. 80 machines of generation 4+ and 5 are clearly not enough.
As the author argues, if, for example, Poland transfers four F-16 C / D Block 52+ to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, then it is not known when it will receive a replacement in the form of a new F-16C / D Block 70. The fact is that the manufacturer Lockheed Martin in 2017 decided to move the line that produced the F-16 in order to free up capacity for the production of the F-35. This was followed by orders for the construction of the F-16 Block 70 Viper (now their portfolio is 128 vehicles) and for the modernization of the F-16 to version V. The corporation cannot cope with these requests. For example, Bulgaria was supposed to receive the Viper this year, but the execution of the order has been delayed by at least two years.
According to the author, under these conditions, the most optimal way to provide aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine is to transfer Danish [2022 F-44AM / BM according to IISS data for 16] and Dutch [61 F-16AM / BM] fighters, which are being replaced by F-35 .
Regarding the US arsenal, the author considers the transfer of F-16s from active squadrons unpromising. Only F-16A/B Block 15 and F-16C/D Block 25 are in storage:
But these aircraft are not only middle-aged, but also with a very large flight time, and require a months-long process of re-mothballing and restoration. It is more likely that the United States will decide to give strong support to the initiative of European NATO countries that would be ready to transfer their F-16s to Ukraine
- the conclusion is made in the Polish press.