​What Are Ukraine's Chances of Getting 128 F-16 Fighters to Reach Minimum Parity with russia?

F-16 fighter jets / Photo credit: US DoD
F-16 fighter jets / Photo credit: US DoD

Despite the fact that Ukraine has already been promised about 100 F-16 fighters, there is still a big problem

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has announced that the Air Force needs 128 F-16 fighters. At the same time, this need is not a long-term one, but a current, as russia uses 300 aircraft against Ukraine every day.

That is why the figure of 128 fighters differs from the need for five aviation brigades (180 aircraft) that was announced in January 2023. At the time, it was noted that this is a long-term perspective. But now it is explicitly stated that this is a number of aircraft that Ukraine needs.

Read more: Infographic: 10 Record Long-Range Strikes on russia

Moreover, Zelensky added that there is currently a decision on only 10-20 F-16 fighters. This suggests that such a small number of boards is unlikely to lead to major changes.

What Are Ukraine's Chances of Getting 128 F-16 Fighters to Reach Minimum Parity with russia?, Defense Express
Ukraine needs 128 fighters / Photo credit: US DoD

But is it even possible to get 128 F-16 fighters. So far, the partner countries have promised the following numbers: 19 aircraft from Denmark, 30 from Belgium, 24 from the Netherlands, and an unknown number from Norway (according to unofficial estimates, the country is ready to transfer 22 jets).

So, it is known about 95 promised F-16 fighters. It seems that to find 33 more is not such a difficult task. But the problem is that Ukraine needs these jets right now.

In some countries, the transfer of F-16s depends on the schedule for receiving F-35s. For instance, Belgium will supply F-16s until 2028. It should also be noted that Denmark was scheduled to receive all F-35s in 2027. And although the schedule has been shifted, Copenhagen promised that this would not affect the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine.

The Netherlands promises that more F-16s will be delivered in the short term. In December 2023, Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that the first tranche would consist of 18 fighter jets. This is due to the fact that the Netherlands has already received a significant batch of F-35 jets. At the same time Norway announced that it had decommissioned all F-16s.

What Are Ukraine's Chances of Getting 128 F-16 Fighters to Reach Minimum Parity with russia?, Defense Express
F-16 fighter jets / Photo credit: US DoD

Speaking about the short-term perspective (conditionally until the end of 2025), Ukraine can most likely count on only 50 F-16 fighters from these countries. And the question of where to get almost 80 more aircraft is extremely difficult. It is possible to find such a number of jets only in the United States that is the largest operator of these aircraft.

But from the very beginning, Washington did not support the idea of transferring F-16s to Ukraine. It should also be mentioned the problems with the training period for Ukrainian pilots and technicians. That is why it is necessary to change the US position, giving Ukraine maximum priority with regard to fighter jets, as was done with anti-aircraft missiles.

Earlier Defense Express reported that Ukraine might receive MiG-29 Ssquadron from Poland.

Read more: ​The U.S. Confirms the Transfer of the Patriot Battery and More Air Defense Systems from the Allies