After more than a year of waiting, the U.S. has given permission for the allies to transfer the planes to Ukraine. They will have an impact on the situation, but not a decisive one, said Col. Krystian Zięć (Ret.), one of the first Polish pilots of the planes and an Alioth Foundation expert, in an interview with o2.pl. And he stresses that the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine is an opportunity for Poland.
Will the change from post-Soviet aircraft to F-16s be a big leap for Ukrainians? – Lukasz Maziewski, editor, asked in an interview
Before my colleagues and I introduced the F-16 aircraft to the Polish Air Force, I flew for several years on MiG-21 aircraft. We can apply a certain analogy from what happened in Poland to what awaits Ukraine now. They need to replace post-Soviet aircraft with Western ones. This can be done in different ways – either like Poland or like Romania. Our experience in this regard is invaluable. At the Alioth Foundation, we are currently preparing a report on this subject, Col. Zięć replied.
Further Krystian Zięć explains:The use of the F-16 as a combat system is not just about flying, but about using the full spectrum of possibilities provided by, among other things, network-centricity: the ability to exchange or share information at the tactical level – information from a large number of sensors aboard a given aircraft, but also those aboard all network users operating in the air, on the ground and at sea. Returning to the question of whether the F-16 will be useful to Ukraine: of course. But flying the F-16 is a completely different model of conducting air operations than what they knew. So – a proper training process, but also securing operations. Technical support. Restoration of capabilities. And here is also an opportunity for Poland: to become a training and maintenance hub for Ukraine and Central Europe. This should be a priority for our politicians, because no one in Central Europe but us has such capabilities.
Assuming the Ukrainians get the machines and proper training: will they be able to effectively counter what Russia sends at them?
No. For a simple reason. The Russians use strategic bombers, operating often from their territory, not from over Ukraine. And F-16s are not air superiority aircraft. They do not have adequate kinetic capabilities. They will not be able to dramatically change the situation in terms of deterring the Russian Federation’s means of air attack.
Of course, they will influence the situation, but not decisively. However, they must fight in such a way as to maximize their capabilities. This is the only way they will make up for deficiencies. This is why proper training is so crucial.
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