Newsweek: Sending F16s to Kiev is complicated and dangerous move

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The former commander of the US Air Force, General Charlie Tuna Moore, spoke to Newsweek magazine about the dangers of sending F16 aircraft to Ukraine, mentioning a number of complications that accompany this process.

Newsweek magazine quoted Moore as saying that countries that provide Kiev with fourth-generation fighters, such as the F16, are likely to need to send contractors or military personnel with experience in maintaining advanced aircraft.

In this regard, he explained, “Basic training can cover some aspects of aircraft maintenance, but maintenance of avionics and hydraulic systems is a different story”.

He added that US or NATO technicians charged with maintaining any F16 fighter jets sent to Ukraine would become legitimate military targets for Russian strikes.

It’s noteworthy, in the context, that Kiev has repeatedly requested combat aircraft from its Western allies, and the F16 quickly became the preferred option.

The F16 would be a significant increase in the capabilities of Ukraine, which currently uses Soviet-era fighter jets, according to Newsweek.

A group of countries, including the United States, have pledged to support the training of Ukrainian pilots on the F16.

Such training has already begun, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last month.

None of the allies has yet agreed to supply F16s to Ukraine, but what was once considered a red line now looks more likely.

Western officials and analysts said providing the F16s would be a long-term commitment for the Ukrainian Air Force, and that a number of complications come with sending entirely new systems to Kiev’s military.

One such complication, according to Newsweek, is that the F16s will need central bases, unlike Soviet planes operated by Ukraine from dispersed locations, which would be attractive targets for Russian strikes.

According to the retired US general, these bases are likely to need Western or NATO contractors, at least for an initial period, to oversee more complex maintenance work.

General Moore added that this requires the presence of personnel from the countries that operate these aircraft – whether it’s the United States or NATO – on the ground in Ukraine, and they are performing this function, whether they are contractors or military.

General Moore concluded that this cause great concern, as these sites will become legitimate military targets in accordance with the laws of armed conflict.

The administration of US President Joe Biden had given the green light to its Western allies and partners to transfer part of their stocks of US-made F16 fighter jets to Ukraine, after paving the way for them to do so, and added that the United States would help on training Ukrainian pilots to use them.

Moscow has repeatedly warned against the West providing Ukraine with F16 fighters, usually this step is tantamount to playing with fire.

The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, confirmed earlier that any shipment containing weapons to Ukraine would become a legitimate target for Russia.

For his part, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Anatoly Antonov, said that sending F16 fighters to Ukraine would raise questions about the involvement of NATO in the conflict.

Prior to that, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, stated that the greater the supply of destructive weapons to the Kiev regime, the greater the possibility of a scenario of the nuclear end of the world.

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