The first batch of F-16 multirole fighters might arrive after Orthodox Easter on Sunday, May 5, as per the current plan according to Ukrainian Air Force Spokesperson Ilya Yevlash.

However, Yevlash provided no details on the dates since the Air Force “does not think about these dates,” given that the dates have already been changed multiple times.

“Our task is to work with what is provided to us, we are not directly responsible for supplies, this is a question for the highest military-political leadership. When the first fighters arrive in Ukraine, we will definitely talk about it,” said Yevlash on television.

Initial reports in August 2023 said the multirole fighters would be delivered to Ukraine by New Year, though the dates have been delayed multiple times, with more recent reports pointing toward the second quarter of this year, which would coincide with Yevlash’s statements.

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Since 2023, multiple nations have announced their plans to deliver F-16s to Ukraine, whose modern avionics – as opposed to the current Soviet-era jets used by Ukraine – will aid Ukraine’s efforts in controlling its airspace against Russian aerial threats.

Denmark and the Netherlands were among the first countries to pledge F-16s to Ukraine during the summer of 2023, with others pledging to train Ukrainian pilots to operate the NATO-standard multirole fighters.

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The overnight aerial attack came shortly after Russian troops bombed a busy shopping centre in Kharkiv on May 25, which killed at least 12 people and injured 43.

Reports in November 2023 also said the maintenance of the multirole fighters will take place in Poland, though it’s not clear if Ukraine and its Western allies will proceed with this plan.

Co-written by a former F-16 pilot employed by Kyiv Post, an article published in August 2023 outlined the advantages and caveats concerning the use of F-16s in Ukraine.

The timeframe constraints are likely not based on airframe availability, but on factors related to completion of specialized training for pilots and maintenance personnel, as well as infrastructure requirements.

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It would not be reasonable to bring the aircraft without a system available and in place to fly them in a combat status, or even to park them at an airfield from which they couldn’t quickly disperse if the airbase came under imminent Russian attacks.

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