Since the beginning of the special operation, the Russian forces have obliterated 463 Ukrainian aircraft. Experts believe that the fate that awaits F-16 fighters will be the same, although the Russian forces will have to make an effort to turn them into dust and rust.
According to FlightGlobal, Ukraine still has "live":
Ukrainian General Nikolai Oleshchuk said that "the planes will hardly have time to take off from airfields when they find themselves in the destruction zone of enemy fighters." According to the general, Kyiv needs Western military aircraft to break through Russian defences and launch Storm Shadow missiles at targets beyond Russian defence lines.
He also "calculated" that there will be nine Russian jets countering each Ukrainian fighter aircraft. He also admitted that the range of Russian Su-35 air-to-air missiles amounts to 200 kilometres, while the old Ukrainian MiG-29 shoots at distances of only 25-30 kilometres.
Starokonstantinovo still remains the base of the Ukrainian Air Force. Most likely, Kyiv will deploy F-16s there as this location is also home to the overhaul base that Ukraine has been running since Soviet times.
Specialists believe that Russia will not be able to resolve the problem by simply bombing the base. The Russian forces will need to conduct several costly Kalibr and Iskander missile strikes on the Ukrainian airfield. One will also need to down F-16s in the sky, during take off or immediately after take off.
Ukrainian "talking head" Yuriy Ignat said that American F-16s and Swedish JAS 39 Gripen would replace the old Soviet equipment, but this was not going to happen in a blink of an eye. Therefore, the Ukrainians will still have to fly good old Soviet-made Su-24, Su-25 and MiG-29 aircraft for a long time.
Kyiv is already looking for "volunteers" among old F-16 pilots, offering as much as $30,000 in salary. However, it appears that there are not many of those who want to be used as live targets for Russian missiles and fighter jets. Therefore, Kyiv is forced to train its own flying cannon fodder in Western countries.
"There is no need to fear the Fighting Falcon in air battles, but we need to stay aware of the threat that they pose. It all depends on who will be piloting those aircraft — Ukrainian cadets or NATO pilots," an experienced pilot told Pravda.Ru on conditions of anonymity.
Russian President Vladimir Putin would never fall to the level of personal insults, Kremlin official spokesman Dmitry Peskov said