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Timing of Ukraine’s New F-16s Make Them ‘No Longer Relevant:’ Officer

Ukraine’s long-awaited F-16s are an example of weapons systems that are “no longer relevant” once they end up in kyiv’s hands, a senior Ukrainian officer told Politico.

Russia has already learned how to counter F-16s in a way that minimizes their potential on the battlefield, said the unnamed officer who, according to Politico, worked under former Ukrainian armed forces chief Valery Zaluzhny .

In an article published Wednesday, Politico editor-in-chief Jamie Dettmer wrote that the outlet spoke to several senior officers on condition of anonymity.

One of Dettmer’s sources was this officer, who complained about the F-16s and said they arrived too late to make a difference.

“Each weapon has its own moment. F-16s were needed in 2023; they won’t be needed for 2024,” the officer said.

Dettmer wrote that the officer cited the F-16s as an example of how “we’re just not getting the weapon systems when we need them.”

“They come when they are no longer relevant,” the officer said.

According to this senior officer, the Kremlin prepared the arrival of the F-16s on the southern front by telemetry with missiles.

He said these missiles, fired without warheads, informed the Russians how best to place their S-400 defense systems to cover the front line and limit the areas where the F-16s can operate.

A coalition of countries led by the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands has been training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s since mid-2023, and kyiv is expected to soon receive up to 60 aircraft from NATO.

The F-16s are expected to significantly increase Ukraine’s strike capability if equipped with long-range missiles.

They have long been sought by kyiv, which hopes it can help Ukraine achieve air superiority – even though the F-16s that arrive will be second-hand and likely decades old.

One pilot told Ukrainian media that it was a significant step up from the Soviet MiGs he usually flies, likening the upgrade to going “from a Nokia, straight to an iPhone.”

But Politico’s new report also highlights frustrations in Ukraine over the equipment its troops receive. The most significant shortage is ammunition for Western artillery and weapons that kyiv received at the start of the war.

As the shelling dries up, Ukraine says it is struggling to make gains and halt Russia’s advance.

It is unclear whether this officer’s assessment is widely shared among Ukrainian forces and the country’s top military brass.

Voice of America, owned by the U.S. government, published an interview in February with a Ukrainian pilot who said his comrades were impressed by the F-16s and felt they “exceeded their expectations.”

But another officer who spoke to Politico shared a philosophy on war that mirrored his colleague’s remarks on the F-16: that weapons quickly become redundant once used.

“The Russians are still studying,” he told the outlet. “They don’t give us second chances. And they succeed.”

THE Ukrainian Air Force and Air Force Command did not immediately respond to an after-hours request for comment from Business Insider.

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