Ukraine has given up on being able to deploy advanced Western F-16 fighter jets this year, a spokesman for the country's air force has said. (Photo by Horacio Villalobos#Corbis/Getty Images)


Ukraine gives up on getting F-16 fighter jets in 2023


Ukraine has given up on being able to deploy American advanced F-16 fighter jets this year, a spokesman for the country’s air force has said.

Having pushed for the European Union and the US to hand over the strike aircraft for much of this year, Yuriy Ihnat is reported as now telling Ukrainian press that Kyiv has lost hope that its forces will be able to use the combat planes in 2023.

“It’s already obvious we won’t be able to defend Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets during this autumn and winter,” Reuters reported him as saying.

Ihnat added that the country had harboured “big hopes” for the jets, with officials reportedly believing that the supersonic fighters would be able to protect Ukraine “from Russia’s missiles and drones terrorism”.

“Unfortunately, that won’t be the case,” the military official said.

Having successfully pressured the West into handing over advanced main battle tanks such as the Leopard II and M1 Abrams earlier this year, Ukrainian officials immediately pivoted to demand they be supplied with the fourth-generation F-16s.

After some discussions, NATO-linked states agreed to fulfil the request, with the administration of US President Joe Biden recently promising that the first jets would arrive in the country for active service by the end of this year.

Issues with logistics, including the training of Ukrainian fighter pilots, appear to have stalled the deployment of the aircraft. Currently, Ukraine is said to have only eight pilots who can speak English well enough to be trained to fly the fighters.

The country is said the be sending around 20 other fighter pilots to the UK to learn English for the express purpose of learning to fly F-16s.

A lack of concrete details from EU and US officials regarding the deliveries has also prompted concerns. Promises surrounding the provision of jets for Ukraine have repeatedly been abandoned in the past, often as a result of logistical or political difficulties.

Many have cited Ukraine’s lack of F-16s as a reason why the country’s current offensive against Russia is going relatively poorly.

Insisting that Ukraine’s assault on the Russians would still achieve its objectives despite the lack of the fighter aircraft, The New York Times noted that the offensive’s success would be prove “far more difficult without the jets”.