F-16 fighter jet maneuvering in the air. Photo/usaf
LONDON – If Ukraine does eventually get its hands on US F-16 fighter jets, they “probably won’t last long”.
That assessment was made by air warfare analyst for the UK’s Royal United Service Institute (RUSI) think tank, Justin Bronk.
Also nicknamed the Fighting Falcon, General Dynamics’ F-16 multirole fighter requires specially prepared air bases and air lines, something Ukraine will need to work on.
“Most Ukrainian airfields are too short and hard to allow the safe use of fully loaded F-16s,” Bronk said, quoted by Decanted’s Geopolitics podcast.
“You have to do a lot of work to get those old Soviet Ukrainian pattern runways clean enough to use F-16s without a high risk of foreign object debris entering and damaging the engines,” he said.
There are several reasons why an F-16 jet needs a specific airfield. First of all, the F-16 has “quite light” landing gear, so there’s “no more weight on the jet than there needs to be.”
“This compact and maneuverable multi-role fighter is distinguished by its large air intake under its nose which sucks everything from the ground right into it,” continues the expert.
He added, “The F-16 usually requires very clean and very good airbase maintenance.”
Hence, if the US ultimately decides to hand over F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, the Kiev authorities will face extensive work involving resurfacing existing runways, expanding landing strips and more.