Would Ukraine benefit dramatically from a true air superiority fighter to go along with the F-16s? Lots of threads about whats-next in terms of gibs - subs? IRBMs? - but are older-block F-16s really more than a replacement for attritted Migs that maintain the status-quo of mutual denial of the front?
F-16 is more then capable enough to dunk on any plane Russia has and once air superiority is achieved it's solid as in it's multirole.
The F16s Ukraine is getting don't have an AESA radar and aren't firing AIM-120D so they are outranged in terms of radar and missiles by Russian aircraft.
Russian aircraft also have the benefit of AWACS control and radar assistance
So then it becomes a matter of giving Ukraine better F16s instead of a whole new platform.
They're not getting AIM 120D ever. The F16s are euro surplus that are getting cashed in for F35s anyways, no one has better planes to give except the Amerikkkans and there is obviously a complex kabuki theatre around what systems they are willing to release
My thought is that the Ukranians have this fear of Russia concentrating and committing tactical aviation en-masse in response to a concentrated counter-attack. Sure the Russians would lose a ton to Ukrainian IADS, but the Ukies only have enough equipment for one good offensive. With F-16's and even 120C, the Ukies can block Russian tactical air while not having to contest air supremacy, basically use the F-16's as the interceptor part of their IADS.
>Committing tactical aviation en-masse
That would be the end of the Russian air force and it would be absolutely hilarious.
It would, but if they can damage the Ukranian counter-offensive enough to claim propaganda victory then they might consider it worth it.
There's also the option of the Ukies using F-16 and a relatively endless supply of 120A/B/C to relieve pressure on their own SAM stocks. Trading an old AMRAAM for a Kalibr is a good trade.
I think the main Ukrainian fear is that they will run out of medium range air defence munitions and will start getting shitted on massively. As other people have said the VKS has been completely absent during the war and is basically intact, except for the KA-52 fleet
yeah i think this makes most sense. Russia would fly kamikazee CAS missions as soon as the Leo 2's start cutting through the vatmorons. f16s will prevent that.
>Russian aircraft also have the benefit of AWACS control and radar assistance
Not 24/7 because they’re running out of the damn things. And they still need to patrol the rest of their enormous airspace. It’s certainly going to be very risky for either side to do anything in the air but let’s not pretend like Ukrainians will be completely outmatched. Just keeping some F-16s up in the air may even be enough deterrent on its own, like a WW1 naval “fleet in being” doctrine, may even be enough to completely kill the use of Russian air power in support of ground attacks.
I don't think the F16s will show up in the conflict for the reasons other analysts have stated (need a long runway with no FOD and will easily be fucked with)
However if they do fly during the war I think they will only ever be used to engage cruise missiles and as a JASSM/LRASM platform
Su27s also need a long runway and ukraine is still using those
Their initial main uses will be interception and SEAD. If they get proper electronic warfare pods, they should be able to fucking annihilate russian air defense.
How? Ukraine has already been firing plenty of HARMs at russian ad with little success
An S300 outranges a HARM, better avionics wont change that
Being able to use the F-16s native HARM integration will absolutely improve their hit probability. There's a reason that the USAF created a specific pod for F-16s to utilize AGM-88s
The AGM-88s are only fired at predetermined targets found by satellite confirmation, then they coordinate a delivery to strike.
The Russian Air Defense Telegrams (Baza, also Murz) complain the dangers of these missiles, which do take out radar arrays, despite the non-flashy pyrotechnics shows like launchers.
The Ukrainian AF on the other hand worry a lot more about the Russian Mig 31s carrying R77 Air-to-Air missiles, which have killed some of their fellow pilots.
I don’t see where F16s are going to miraculously do what Mig 29s can’t already. They’ll play a support role to continue the operations Migs and Su27s do at most.
AIM-120 is significantly better than the rest of Ukraine's BVR AAMs
That's true, Ukraine doesn't have ANY fox 3 right now so AMRAAM is a leap forward, but it's still outranged by MiG 31
F-16 with HTP is significantly more capable than Mig-29 shooting HARMs on pre-programmed mode. HTP can instantly identify and location a radar emitter, which not only enables counter-fire with HARM, but you can also datalink the location to anything with Link 16, like a HIMARS battery. Now you have to pick out the HARM out of a background of GMLRS heading your way as well.
or the s300 simply shoots its own active radar missiles at you before you can get into firing range and you blow up
ukraine already has awacs support from Nato, they can integrate it with the F-16
It's not feasible - there are plenty of old F-16s to go around. The Typhoons in circulation are required by their air forces. And F-16 is more than good enough for Ukraine
>The Typhoons in circulation are required by their air forces.
There's actually an exception to that - the UK's set to retire their Tranche 1 Typhoons in 2025. They're only compatible with AMRAAM, not meteor, and they don't get anything but the most basic air-to-ground weapons so they pretty much only get used for patrolling British airspace nowadays - still, they have some lifespan left to their airframes so I suppose they'd be of some value to Ukraine - they could be dedicated to CAP duties to free up some of Ukraine's new Vipers and their existing fleet to stick to ground attack and other useful roles. It's just a question of whether Ukraine's existing infrastructure and pool of pilots is up to handling one more class of airframe.
that seems like it is actually possible if the UK is the one doing it.
Yeah we should stop being pussies and give Ukraine f-15s
Do we have any idea what tier F16s Ukraine is likely to get and with what A2A?
There is going to be no air to air combat you dimwit
There has been a lot of air to air combat, Ukrainians have had a very tough go of it. Justin Bronk wrote a very long treatment of their issues - https://rusi.org/explore-our-research/publications/special-resources/russian-air-war-and-ukrainian-requirements-air-defence
Not after the opening weeks there hasnt been.
They will benefit defensively but this conflict is getting set now and the current line is looking like it will be the border for some time. Those planes to near Russian positions and they'll get s400'd.
Air superiority is something that isnt achieved with a handful of expensive aircraft. Its a complex interweaving of assets and doctrine that isnt solved by having a few F35s flying around. It is more than frames in air and relies on ground support and other means to get there. All the F16s have to do is pose a reasonable threat and they will do that.
The best would be anything that can lob meteors and such but f-16 is still very helpful, i doubt either side will establish air superiority during the war so range is king.