In the coming years, Ukraine can depend only on the existing fleet of Soviet Aircrafts.
The commander of the US Air Force in Europe and Africa, General James Hacker, put the most recent point in the matter of Ukraine receiving Western fighter jets in the near future during the annual conference of the Air Force Association.
The American general, while talking to journalists, did not veil the actual terms of receiving the F-16 fighter jets and stated that they will not arrive in Ukraine within the next 2-3 years, even after the relevant political decision is made.
And the reason for this is not the Pentagon’s lack of desire to strengthen the Ukrainian Armed Forces with new machines, but completely prosaic things – training and logistical issues, Politico quoted him as saying. That is, this problem applies to any other Western aircraft, including European warmachines too.
We will also remind you that the Pentagon has already stated that the transfer of fighter jets is not in the short term and that Washington is aiming for the transfer of weapons that the Ukrainian Armed Forces will immediately be ready to throw into battle.
In this way, it is possible to look at the problem realistically, and most importantly, with the understanding that from 1991 to 2022, the Air Force of Ukraine did not receive a single new fighter and anti-aircraft missile system.
Due to the fact that the main problems in obtaining aircrafts have been determined and consist precisely in training and ground maintenance, the only “short” option remains obtaining additional MiG-29s. And after Slovakia has already handed over the MiG-29AS , taking into account the uncertain fate of Polish machines, Bulgaria remains the only operator of this fighter from NATO countries, which has 14 units of the MiG-29 in service.
But these machines are reaching the end of their service life, and in 2020, Sofia planned to replace them with 8 units of F-16, but Lockheed Martin did not have time to fulfill this contract on time .
It should also be taken into account that the Pentagon has already hinted that they have transferred a “more than significant” number of spare parts for the MiG-29. This could well allow Ukrainian specialists not only to repair aircrafts damaged in battles, but also to restore “sides” from storage.
But when it comes to the MiG-29, its combat effectiveness rests on its weapons and radar complex. In any case, the MiG-29 of the 80s will be inferior to the Russian Su-30 and Su-35 of the 2000-2010s. And the only theoretically possible option for expanding the aircraft’s capabilities is to provide it with wider capabilities by integrating new weapons and searching for other non-linear solutions.
Regarding weapons, separate publications have already been devoted to this issue, both regarding air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles. However, in relation to the expansion of air combat capabilities, everything rests on the obsolescence of the MiG-29 targeting radar systems.