When Russia escalated the war that has been going on since 2014 into a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, many expected the Russians to run over the Ukrainian Air Force. Days after the invasion was a reality, the Russians claimed that the Ukrainian Air Force had been grounded, but like many other claims from the Kremlin, this turned out to be false.
The combat aircraft used by Ukraine are produced by the Soviet Union and are outdated in many ways, compared to modern Western fighter systems, such as the F16 and F35.
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In recent weeks, it has become known that Poland and Slovakia are going to donate their MiG-29 combat aircraft to Ukraine. This is the kind of aircraft that Ukraine already has, planes that can be put into operation almost immediately. Slovakia has already sent 13 aircraft, while Poland has sent at least four fighter jets. It is unclear exactly how many MiG-29s Poland has, but it is assumed that there are 12-15 that will be sent east to Ukraine.
Lars Peder Haga is an associate professor at the Norwegian Air Force School and an expert on Russian air power, military power, doctrine and operations. He says that donations from Slovakia and Poland are necessary for Ukraine so that it can continue the war against the Russians.
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– Immediately, the donation of new combat aircraft means that Ukraine can continue to fight at the same level as it has done so far. They suffered very large losses in the fighter fleet, but with this replenishment, it seems that new aircraft are enough to replenish them, Haga tells Nettavisen.
According to the reputable website oryx Is there photographic evidence that Ukraine has lost 57 combat aircraft so far in the war. Figures extracted on April 4th.
According to Haga, the planes Ukraine is getting now have been upgraded with some new communications equipment and navigation systems.
– but they did not receive new weapon systems, says Haga.
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Better weapons and sensors
According to him, the biggest advantage of the Russians is that they have better sensors and better weapons on their combat aircraft. Russia also has advanced surveillance aircraft that, combined with better radar systems, allow it to detect Ukrainian aircraft before the Russians themselves are detected.
Airframes themselves. The Russians can see first and shoot first, and in aerial duels, whoever shoots usually wins, says Haga.
One of the aces of the Russians is the advanced radar A-50 aircraft. Earlier this year, such a plane was attacked by a drone at an airport in Belarus.
“You can look at Dogfight as a snowball fight where one party is standing on the ground, and the other party is standing on the second floor with a much better view,” Haga explains.
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The British newspaper The Telegraph interviewed Ukrainian fighter pilot Vadym “Karaya” Voroshilov, who told how the Russians lured Ukrainian fighter jets into their purest death traps.
– They sent one Russian fighter jet, and fooled the Ukrainian pilot into thinking there was only one. “Suddenly, two or three Russian planes appear and surround the Ukrainian plane,” says Voroshilov. to the newspaper.
Despite the fact that the new combat aircraft that Ukraine will now have access to will not give it the opportunity to take out the Russian aircraft fleet, Lars Peder Haga still believes that this gesture is symbolically important.
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– Haga tells Netavisen that leaves the door open for a donation of Western fighter jets to Ukraine.
A year ago there was a heated debate about whether Poland and Slovakia should donate their MiG-29s to Ukraine. At that time, the West, led by the United States and Joe Biden, put its foot in it, but now it happened anyway.
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– Big Daddy
Fighter aircraft are subject to heavy loads and require regular intensive maintenance in order to function. Not least, many planes have been shot down, which means that Ukraine will eventually have to acquire new planes. Haga believed that there were no more Soviet-made aircraft in the world that Ukraine could get, after Slovakia and Poland sent theirs. The remaining planes are owned by countries closely allied with Russia to donate aircraft to Ukraine.
Although she knew something was up when she checked her phone. Hours later, the news shook the world
– The biggest danger for Ukraine is that it is using up all the ammunition for its ground air defense and running out of fighter jets. In the current situation, Ukrainian combat aircraft are a threat that the Russians have to deal with. If the Russians can get past ground-based air defences, they will be met by Ukrainian fighter jets, Lars Peder-Haga explains.
He expects to see a decision to either sell or donate modern Western fighter jets to Ukraine within the year.
– If Ukraine is to have an Air Force also in two to three years, they will have to have it. It takes a long training period, Haga believes, so the decision must come before too long.
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