Ukraine’s F-16s ‘legitimate targets’ – Russia


The F-16 jets provided to Ukraine, set to be deployed at foreign airbases, will be considered “legitimate targets” by the Russian military, Andrey Kartapolov, chair of the Russian State Duma’s defense committee, told news agency RIA Novosti on June 10.

Read also: Ukraine to station part of new F-16 fleet at allied air bases for protection from Russian strikes

He claims that Russia will allegedly have the right to strike F-16s outside of Ukraine if such aircraft are involved in combat missions. He also called F-16 airfields outside of Ukraine “legitimate targets”.

Serhiy Holubtsov, chief of aviation of the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said earlier on June 10 that some F-16 fighters that the partners will transfer to Ukraine will be deployed at foreign airbases to protect them from Russian strikes.

Such fighters will be a reserve for the Ukrainian Armed Forces, in particular, if necessary “to replace faulty aircraft, during routine maintenance.”

F-16 fighters for Ukraine

F-16 JET <span class="copyright">NV</span>

The Netherlands and Denmark promised in August 2023 to jointly provide Ukraine with 61 American F-16 fighter jets. This was preceded by a transfer authorization from the United States.

Norway has also confirmed its intention to supply F-16s. Belgium will also provide Ukraine with F-16s, but in 2025.

Read also: Ukraine asks partners to expand F-16 pilot training

The Netherlands announced its decision to begin preparations for the transfer of the first 18 aircraft to Ukraine in December, and later increased this number to 24. In total, the country has promised Kyiv 42 fighters.

The tentative timeline for the delivery of the fighter jets to Ukraine was the first half of 2024.

F-16 Coalition2 <span class="copyright">NV</span>
F-16 Coalition2 NV

The first F-16s would arrive in Ukraine around June 2024, Foreign Policy reported on Feb. 18, 2024, citing European officials. Commenting on this, the then spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, noted that it was impossible to talk about specific dates for the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine by foreign partners.

The Netherlands plans to start sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in fall, Dutch Defense Minister Kees Ollongren announced on May 6. At the same time, Danish Ambassador to Kyiv Ole Egberg Mikkelsen said that planes would arrive this summer.

The first Western F-16 fighter jets would arrive in Ukraine within a few weeks, The Standard reported on May 10, citing a high-ranking military source.

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