Europe sends fighter planes to Ukraine’s pilots: what should they be and why

A MiG-29 of those that would be donated by the countries of Eastern Europe for Ukraine. Ukrainian pilots have experience flying these Soviet-made aircraft, so their adaptability would be almost immediate (File)

The countries of the European Union (EU) announced on Sunday night that they will provide the invaded Ukraine fighter planes to resist the offensive of Russiathe head of the continental bloc’s diplomacy said in statements to the media, Joseph Borrell. “We are even going to send fighter planes. We’re not just talking about ammunition. We are providing major weaponry for a war”, said the Spanish official at the end of a videoconference of European foreign ministers. The aircraft request had been made by the foreign minister of Ukraine, Dmitry Kuleba.

However, questions remain about how the Air Force Ukrainian to use these valuable fighters that would be given by its neighboring countries belonging to the NATO., given that in their first air raid the invading forces of Vladimir Putin they destroyed most of the airfield runways where the Ukrainian fighter jets were located, rendering them unusable. It was one of the first blows that the Moscow dictator dealt on Ukraine, thus believing that he could neutralize its defenses. Five days after the beginning of the ground and air aggression, Kiev continues to resist.

Another obstacle to overcome would be the capacity and adaptability that the Ukrainian pilots should have to get on one of those jets and begin to counter the Russians. They don’t have time for preparation courses. Its use should be immediate. That is why the allies of Ukraine they think about how to increase that kind of help. “They need the kind of fighters… that the Ukrainian force can operate. We know what kind of aircraft, and some Member States have such aircraft“, said Borrell by advancing the EU resolution.

Those planes would be MiG-29 and the Sukhoi SU-25 What do your neighbors have? Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria and that ironically they were manufactured by the Soviet Union. “Perhaps the most striking of today’s promises to send weapons to the Ukrainian military was the European Union’s announcement that it would soon send fighter jets. Will Ukrainian pilots really be able to get on a donated plane and fly into combat?”, asked the journalist specialized in defense Marcus Weisgerbergfrom the magazines Defense One.

To do this, he consulted an aviation expert and former fighter pilot: Herbert “Hawk” Carlislea retired general who oversaw the actions of American fighters in the Air Combat Command. MiG-29s and SU-25s are ships that Ukrainian pilots have already flown for years, so there would be no adaptability issues.

Russian-made Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets during a demonstration in Kyrgyzstan last September (Reuters)
Russian-made Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jets during a demonstration in Kyrgyzstan last September (Reuters) (VLADIMIR PIROGOV/)

But one piece of information is encouraging:Ukraine already flies the MiG-29 and its Air Force pilots could immediately fly MiG-29s without the need for extensive training or adaptability.”, he explained Carlisle on Defense One. Normally, pilots must complete a training course before stepping into the cockpit of a new type of aircraft. However, time is short and use must be almost instantaneous.

When referring to the donation of another type of aircraft, Carlisle was forceful and explained why that would not be a good idea, considering the urgency of the matter: “It’s not like driving a Chevy and then driving a Dodge. Some is needed to transition aircraft between manufacturers, as well as within manufacturers, if it is a different type of aircraft”. That’s why the F-16 they could not go from one day to the next to attend the Ukrainian Air Force. Its pilots have no experience flying this ship.

The United States builds planes very differently from the Russians. Passing to an American fighter is a big step”, he said and added: “They would have to test themselves in the plane and understand, you know, all the operating limits, all the weapons systems, and how to handle the plane. That’s a pretty big step, which can’t be taken all at once.”.

Carlisle concluded: “Anything we can give to counter Russia‘s air superiority would be a huge advantage. Anything that can be done to disrupt your data or degrade your electronic capabilities can be to your advantage.”. Now, however, it remains to be seen how the logistics of transferring the ships would be carried out and how the Ukrainian pilots could make them take off, avoiding preventive attacks on different airfields by the forces of the Russian dictator.


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