Ukraine eyes fighter jets after securing battle tanks

US F-16 fighter jet

After securing dozens of top-tier battle tanks from NATO allies, Ukraine says it will now ask for Western fourth-generation fighter jets such as the American F-16.

“The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets,” said Yuriy Sak, who advises defence minister Oleksiy Reznikov.

“If we get them the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense … It’s not just F-16s, fourth-generation aircraft, this is what we want.”

Ukraine’s air force operates an aging inventory of Soviet-era fighter jets that were built before Kyiv even declared independence more than 31 years ago. The warplanes are used to carry out intercept missions and launch attacks on Russian positions.

Kyiv has relied heavily on Western military assistance, which has drastically changed over the conflict. Even the notion of sending lethal aid to Ukraine was very contentious prior to the Russian invasion, but Western supplies have subsequently broken several taboos.

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Delivery of Tanks

The United States and Germany announced plans to send heavy tanks to Kyiv on Wednesday, giving the Ukrainian military a significant boost.

Biden said on Wednesday that the Abrams tanks, which he described as the “most capable” in the world, will help Ukraine defend its territorial integrity against what he called Russia’s “brutal” aggression against its neighbour.

“They need to be able to counter Russia’s evolving tactics and strategy on the battlefield in the very near term,” Biden said of Ukrainian forces.

“They need to improve their ability to manoeuvre in open terrain, and they need an enduring capability to deter and defend against Russian aggression over the long term.”

After weeks of deliberation, Germany revealed that it had decided to send 14 of its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine less than 24 hours prior to the US move.

“This decision follows our well-known line of supporting Ukraine to the best of our ability. We are acting in a closely coordinated manner internationally,” Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a statement.