On July 20, General Charles Q. Brown, Jr., Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force, stated at a security forum in Aspen that the U.S. is considering transferring modern fighters of the fourth generation to Ukraine.
According to Brown, there are several possibilities, including U.S.-made fighters or some made in Europe. Options include the Gripen fighter made in Sweden, the Rafale made in France, and the Eurofighter Typhoon, built by a consortium of companies spanning several countries.
“It’ll be something non-Russian, I can probably tell you that,” Brown said. “But I can’t tell you exactly what it’s going to be.”
Western countries are now exploring the possibilities of training Ukrainian pilots to fly fighter jets, although the U.S. believes such a step could lead to a broader conflict with Russia.
In July, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to allocate $100 million to train Ukrainian pilots to operate Western aircraft. The Pentagon has not yet confirmed when the program will start. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milli noted that Washington is now focused on helping Kyiv in the artillery war.
The current and on-going second phase of Russia’s war in Ukraine is focused on the battle for Donbas. The need for aviation has increased significantly, bearing in mind that all wars, starting with the World War II, were mostly won in the sky. Therefore, aerial dominance offers a key advantage in combat operations.
Kyiv has asked the U.S. and the European Union (EU) to supply planes. In particular, President Volodymyr Zelensky noted that Kyiv agreed to receive old Soviet aircraft if the West could not hand over modern fighters. At the start of July, Zelensky said that Kyiv’s priorities had changed, and that in the absence of jets, Ukraine is waiting for an air defense system.
Russia has had a significant advantage in the air, using more than three times more combat aircraft than Ukraine. The Pentagon claims that the Russian air force has carried out about 250 military missions and launches up to 30 air strikes every day.
The acquisition of 50 fighter jets would allow Ukraine to close the last and most important front – the sky, adding to the ground advantage of the Armed Forces. The latter comes thanks to the supply of powerful offensive weapons from Western partners in recent weeks.
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