Ukraine sets sights on fighter jets after securing tank supplies

KYIV: Ukraine will now push for Western fourth generation fighter jets such as the US F-16 after securing supplies of main battle tanks, an adviser to Ukraine’s defence minister said on Wednesday (Jan 25).

Ukraine won a huge boost for its troops as Germany announced plans to provide heavy tanks for Kyiv on Wednesday, ending weeks of diplomatic deadlock on the issue. The United States is poised to make a similar announcement.

“The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets,” Yuriy Sak, who advises Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told Reuters by phone.

Ukraine’s Air Force has a fleet of ageing Soviet-era fighter jets that came off the assembly line before Kyiv even declared independence more than 31 years ago. The warplanes are used for intercept missions and to attack Russian positions.

“If we get them (Western fighter jets), the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense … It’s not just F-16s (US multirole fighter jets): fourth generation aircraft, this is what we want.”

Western military support has been vital for Kyiv and has rapidly evolved during the war. Before the invasion, even the idea of supplying lethal aid to Ukraine was highly controversial but Western supplies have since shattered taboo after taboo.

“They didn’t want to give us heavy artillery, then they did. They didn’t want to give us HIMARS systems, then they did. They didn’t want to give us tanks, now they’re giving us tanks. Apart from nuclear weapons, there is nothing left that we will not get,” Sak said.