Does US fly F-35 over Ukraine or not?

Where is the truth about F-35 fighters flying over Ukraine?

The Pentagon denied Singapore's reports on F-35 flights "over the territory of Ukraine." In fact, they should have refuted the participation of the United States in the proxy war with the Russian Federation.

What did the Singaporean Defence Minister say?

Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said that the United States deployed its fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to conduct active reconnaissance operations in Ukraine. Earlier, Singapore announced the acquisition of 12 F-35A aircraft in addition to the previously ordered eight F-35B (VSTOL) models.

"Most recently, the United States used its F-35s to detect and identify Russian anti-aircraft missile sites in Ukraine, and this information was transferred to NATO countries,” the minister said on February 28 at a hearing of the parliamentary procurement committee.

This disclosure indicates to the following:

  • the US is directly involved in the Ukrainian conflict militarily;
  • the F-35 plays a key role in the extensive US and NATO electronic warfare network;
  • the goal of the United States and NATO is to collect intelligence data about Russian forces in Ukraine and transfer it to the Armed Forces of Ukraine;

F-35 doesn't have to fly over Ukraine to collect information

A Pentagon representative said that the United States does not fly F-35s in Ukraine. However, in order for these aircraft to collect information about the Russian Armed Forces, they do not have to enter Ukrainian space.

The F-35 is not only a fighter, but also an electronic warfare aircraft. It is equipped with modern sensors capable of collecting the necessary intelligence:

  • AFAR radar APG-81 (range — 370 km),
  • AN/ASQ-239 Barracuda electronic warfare system (range — 926 km).

There is also an electro-optical guidance system (EOTS), as well as a distributed aperture system (DAS), a network of infrared sensors.

In a nutshell, an F-35 flying over Poland can detect Russian targets near Kharkiv.

In the early days of the special military operation, the United States sent F-35s to Estonia, Lithuania and Romania. Operating in stealth mode, these aircraft from Germany-based 388th and 419th Fighter Wings carried out electronic intelligence (ELINT) missions to detect frequencies emitted by Russian air defence systems and fighter aircraft.

Russian air defences actively counter F-35s

According to Air Force Times, they successfully tracked most Russian air defence systems in Ukraine and Kaliningrad, albeit not always. F-35s failed to identify, for example, the S-300 air defence system.

"We're looking at an SA-20. I know it's an SA-20. Intel says there's an SA-20 there, but now my jet doesn't ID it as such, because that SA-20 is operating, potentially, in a war reserve mode that we haven't seen before," Col. Craig Andrle, head of the 388th said.

Despite the touted electronic warfare capabilities of the F-35, the failure demonstrates that Russian air defences take countermeasures, which makes it more difficult for Western intelligence to gather info.

Nevertheless, it is US military personnel who stand behind sensitive attacks on Black Sea Fleet ships and other strategic targets in Russia in the first place.

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Author`s name Lyuba Lulko
Editor Dmitry Sudakov