F-16s could arrive in Ukraine this month

    Kyiv may receive the US-made jets sometime after May 5, but the exact timeline is not yet clear, an Air Force spokesman has said. US-made F-16 fighter jets could start arriving in Ukraine as early as this month, a senior Ukrainian military official has said.

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    Speaking on national TV on Wednesday, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Ilya Evlash predicted that Kyiv could receive the first batch of the advanced jets after Orthodox Easter, celebrated on May 5 this year.

    Still, he cautioned against getting hopes up. “We are not guessing the future, because the date has been changed several times. That’s why we are waiting.”

    The official stressed that the timeline for F-16 deliveries is out of Ukraine’s hands and that Kyiv’s military “will work with what it is given to it.”

    Later, in an interview with the newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda, Evlash elaborated that “‘after Easter’ is a drawn-out notion,” noting that Kyiv would like to get the warplanes as soon as possible and vowing to announce once they arrive. He added that Ukrainian pilots are currently training to fly the jets in Denmark and the US.

    More jets from Denmark this summer

    In March, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said that the first batch of F-16 fighter jets would arrive in Ukraine from Denmark this summer. This timeline was also confirmed by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, who nevertheless acknowledged that more training is needed both for pilots and ground personnel.

    Ukrainian officials have admitted that operating F-16s will be fraught with serious practical difficulties. Last month, Evlash said that building bunkers for the jets would require “colossal funds,” adding that Kyiv would try to use other methods to protect the aircraft from strikes, including dispersing them among different airfields.

    Last year, Western countries announced an international coalition to help Ukraine procure the US-designed F-16s, with plans to provide Kyiv with several dozen aircraft.

    However, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last autumn that while the F-16s would certainly boost Ukraine’s military capabilities, they would not be “a silver bullet” capable of drastically changing the situation on the battlefield.

    Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said that F-16s will not change the outcome of the conflict, saying that the Russian military will destroy the planes as it has other Ukrainian hardware.


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