Western countries are also supporting Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. The USA have allowed Denmark and the Netherlands to export the all-round machine, and the two states will announce delivery when the pilots are trained and the logistics are in place. That will probably not be the case before the end of 2023. The F-16 is one of the most widespread fighter planes in the world, tried and tested, versatile – but also with a downside.

The F-16 was developed in the 1970s as a manoeuvrable, comparatively inexpensive and versatile fighter jet. At that time, the USA concluded an agreement with the NATO partners Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands for the production of the fighter jet. The first F-16 aircraft was delivered to the US Air Force in 1979. Officially nicknamed the “Fighting Falcon,” the F-16 is also known as the “Viper.”

The single-engine fighter jet, which is available in one-seat and two-seat versions, is almost 15 meters long and has a wingspan of almost 10 meters. It is armed with a 20mm multi-barreled cannon and can be equipped with air-to-air missiles and bombs.

According to the US Air Force, the F-16 can reach top speeds of more than 2400 kilometers per hour and can fly to targets more than 860 kilometers away, fire its missiles and return to the starting point. The USA used the F-16 in the 1991 Iraq war, as well as in military operations in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003.

According to Lockheed Martin, more than 4,500 F-16s were built. In addition to the original project partners Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, customers also include Egypt, Chile, Israel, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey. Germany does not have F-16s, nor does Britain, which is a driving force on the issue of fighter jet supplies to Ukraine.

According to the specialized website FlightGlobal, more than 2,200 F-16s were in service worldwide last year. The “Fighting Falcon” is by far the most widespread fighter jet in the world and accounts for 15 percent of the global fighter jet fleet.

In particular because of this high availability, the F-16 is on Ukraine’s wish list. But there are also some obstacles. The retraining of Ukrainian pilots trained on Soviet fighter jets is likely to take months. Experts also point out that the training of technical personnel to maintain the F-16 could take even longer.

Fighter jets are very expensive, as are their maintenance and armament. In addition, the F-16 needs relatively long and well-maintained runways and may have difficulty on Ukraine’s old Soviet-era runways, according to policy institute Rand Corporation.

It is also controversial how much Western fighter jets can really help Ukraine. Some experts argue that Ukraine’s and Russia’s advanced air defense systems already severely limit the capabilities of both countries’ fighter jets, the US Congressional Research Service wrote in March.

On the other hand, supporters of fighter jet deliveries argue that Western fighter jets could certainly help Ukraine. The F-16 could be used in the fight for air supremacy over Ukraine, in repelling Russian attacks, in taking action against Russian positions and in support of ground forces.