by Alexander Ward, Matt Berg and Ari Hawkins at Politico
It seems likelier than ever that, eventually, F-16 fighter jets will be flying above Ukrainian skies helmed by Ukrainian pilots.
To ensure that’s the case, Ukraine will have to overcome a lot of obstacles — mostly technical — to get the most of its incoming prized possessions. Experts (and, quietly, some U.S. officials) point out two in particular.
The first is keeping planes functioning in good order. The roughly 60 F-16s that are most readily available to send to Ukraine use electronics that are hard to come by. They also require skilled maintainers with access to tons of parts, many of which aren’t in large supply, to keep an aircraft operational. Kyiv will need to ensure it has the maintenance infrastructure — and the funds to sustain it — to make the best use of the fighter jets, per BRYNN TANNEHILL, a former U.S. naval aviator.
“For the U.S. Air Force, an F-16 requires about 16 man-hours of maintenance for every one hour flying, and that once trained, aircraft maintenance personnel rely on specialize [sic] equipment and a massive logistical enterprise to keep them supplied with materiel,” reads a March Congressional Research Service report. It’s possible, however, that NATO countries bordering Ukraine, like Poland and Romania, could help Ukraine with this problem.
The second is avoiding Russia’s surface-to-air missiles. JUSTIN BRONK,…Continue Reading