In Ukraine, military analysts are convinced that in a few months the country will have Western machines. And there is much to suggest that this assessment is far more than wishful thinking.
“The issue of fighter jets is on the agenda, and I think the solution will be available in the next few months,” military analyst Taras Chmut, who is well-known in Kyiv, told Deutsche Welle. Already “in the second half of the year, towards the end of the year, they could perhaps be in Ukraine”.
He assumes “99.8 percent” that “the political decision” has already been made. For him, the practical implementation of the fighter jet plan is already “at 70 percent”: In other words, the clarification of questions about the training of Ukrainian pilots and ground staff. He is convinced that the Ukrainian military quickly set about “rethinking operational tactics” in order to integrate a modern fighter jet fleet into their plans.
In fact, there is much to suggest that Kiev’s discussion with the more than 50 Western supporters of the US-led Ukraine Contact Group is already well advanced – and that the Ukrainian assessment is closer to actual planning than the public debate in the West – especially in Germany – makes you believe. Recently, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in an interview with the newspaper “Der Tagesspiegel” that fighter jet deliveries were not on the agenda.
“These are weapons with a much greater strategic potential, which can influence the course of the war much more than tanks,” believes Kyiv military expert Chmut. In mid-February, the Ukraine Contact Group is scheduled to meet again at the US military base in Ramstein, Germany.
“Work on procuring F-16 fighter jets continues,” wrote Andriy Yermak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in late January, just over a week after the last Ramstein meeting. “We have positive signals from Poland, which is ready to leave them to us in coordination with NATO.”
The fact that US President Joe Biden recently answered a journalist’s question as to whether the USA would hand over F16 fighter jets to Ukraine with a “no” is classified by the “New York Times” as a “playbook”, i.e. as a well-known one Muster: According to this, Ukraine first publicly asked for modern Western military equipment, which the Biden administration initially rejected.
The latter then silently suggests that Ukraine could obtain the same type of weapon from European allies much more quickly. Then it would go back and forth in public statements, until finally the gates for further weapon systems opened in Washington. A publicly performed media theatre, then, which is primarily intended to help confuse the Russian attackers and the Kremlin.
The months-long discussions about the delivery of Western battle tanks like the Leopard 2 from German production may have even accelerated the decision to use Western fighter jets for Ukraine. On the front in eastern and southern Ukraine, the Russian army has launched offensives in several places in order to regain the initiative in the war.
In contrast to the successful recaptures up until late last summer, the Ukrainian army is now under pressure again. In Washington, the verdict on the month-long reluctance of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is critical.
“The constant delays in providing Western material when it became apparent that it was needed or would soon be needed contributed to the prolongation of the conflict,” wrote the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in late January.
The commitments made in January for main battle tanks and armored vehicles are important “for further counter-offensives”. But the delays “in making those commitments may have deprived Ukraine of a chance of a counteroffensive this winter.” And the German Ukraine expert Nico Lange from the Munich Security Conference writes in his current blog on the military situation in Ukraine about a “missed opportunity for Ukraine”.
Russia has “given time to increase troop density, fortify defensive positions and train and bring in new troops,” said Lange. “In the worst case scenario, Russia’s attacks could result in Ukraine holding too few reserves and not having enough time for combined arms exercises and optimal preparation for counterattacks.”
A map by the US think tank American Enterprise Institute shows how much the Russian armed forces have meanwhile reinforced the Russian lines in Ukraine along the front.
At the same time, the US-led states supporting Ukraine made a qualitative leap in the quality of the promised weapons at their last Ramstein meeting in January. Especially with the delivery commitment for the GLSDB rocket (Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb) from the US company Boeing and the Swedish Saab group.
According to the manufacturer, the weapon has a range of 150 kilometers and was only launched on the defense market in the fall of last year, after the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
In London, the renowned think tank Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), which advises the British armed forces, had already called for fighter jets for Ukraine at the beginning of November, and thus at the height of the Western battle tank discussion. “Ukrainian Air Force needs modern Western fighter jets and missiles” to keep Russian Air Force at bay. Military expert Justin Bronk writes that “a small number of Western fighter jets would already have a large deterrent effect”.
RUSI recommends the distribution of western fighter jets in small teams in Ukraine. “Any Western combat aircraft delivered in the short to medium term must be able to operate in a dispersed manner, using mobile maintenance equipment and small support teams, and fly from relatively inaccessible runways to avoid being smothered by Russian Long-range missile attacks will be neutralized.”
In an interview with French television at the end of January, the spokesman for the Ukrainian air force, Yuriy Ihnat, gave a deep look into the Ukrainian wish list. “We have to set up up to five tactical aircraft brigades with a single Western multi-role aircraft type,” says Ihnat in the interview that was broadcast a few days ago. At the moment it’s just a matter of “which type it will be”.
Collaboration: Iryna Ukhina
Author: Frank Hofmann, Mykola Berdnyk
The Russian aviation industry also sees advantages in the sanctions. Switching to planes like the Tupolev Tu-214 promotes your own skills. Outside of Russia, however, the model is considered technologically outdated.
Russia is said to be sending “Marker” robots to Ukraine to destroy western main battle tanks there. The “killer robots” are already on their way – but only four so far. The “marker” can be equipped with various weapon systems. But whether that will benefit the Russians is questionable.
The original of this article “Kyiv is already planning with western fighter jets” comes from Deutsche Welle.