US fears combat losses in Ukraine could destroy F-16’s reputation: US media

The US may suffer serious logistical challenges by supplying Ukraine with advanced fighter jets including F-16s, as there is a possibility that the fighter or its technologies could fall into Russian hands or it could face significant losses in combat, according to an American magazine.

Following months of Ukrainian government requests that Western countries supply it with F-16 fighter aircraft, President Joe Biden on Friday announced that the US will deliver Ukraine advanced fighter jets including F-16s.

The United States has come under growing pressure from its European allies to approve transfers of aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force.

Biden’s announcement came days after Britain and the Netherlands promised an “international coalition” to send Kiev the US-made jets it has long demanded.

Military Watch magazine wrote, “The F-16, although currently being replaced by the newer fifth-generation F-35, has for decades been the primary fighter fielded across much of NATO as well as by key American allies beyond Europe such as South Korea and Israel, and is considered the most suitable Western fighter for Ukraine.”

The magazine said the looming depletion of Ukraine’s ground-based “air defenses”, the West’s very limited capacity to replenish these, and the growing influence of the Russian air power across the battlefield, have all been factors stimulating Kiev’s supporters to push to upgrade its air power with greater urgency.

If the F-16s be deployed to Ukraine, “there is a possibility that the fighter or its technologies could fall into Russian hands, as other Western equipment has in considerable quantities, but there is also a much greater chance that the fighters could suffer significant losses both to strikes on their airfields and in the air to air combat which would be a major blow to the F-16’s reputation,” the magazine revealed.

A possible and key reason for the disagreement between the Europeans and the US for sending F-16s to Ukraine is that “the US still has a very large stake in the F-16 program,” Military Watch reported.

The magazine added that the fighter jets have been in service and continue to form the backbone of the US Air Force for decades, and moreover, it continues to offer modernized variants of the class for export at times for hundreds of millions of dollars per airframe, so the US is not willing to supply their older aircraft to the Ukrainian Air Force.

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