With the increasing likelihood of obtaining F-16 fighters from allied nations, Ukraine now appears to have set its eyes on acquiring the Eurofighter Typhoons from Germany.
On May 30, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov expressed his optimism about Ukraine potentially getting the Typhoon fighter jets from Germany.
According to the German media outlet DW, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov made this announcement in an interview with the German media group Funke and the French newspaper “Ouest France.”
The minister stated that if the United Kingdom and Germany joined forces to provide Eurofighter jets, it would represent a significant advancement, emphasizing the potential impact of such collaboration.
Reznikov also referred to the existing international “tank coalition,” which features the German Leopard 2 as the main model alongside the American Abrams and British Challenger tanks.
Drawing a parallel, he suggested establishing a “fighter jet coalition” with the American F-16 as the base model, complemented by the Eurofighter and Swedish Gripen aircraft.
Reznikov further explained that Ukraine requires approximately 120 fighter aircraft. He added that a significant portion of these fighters should be F-16s, given their global availability of over 5000 units.
However, the minister noted that Eurofighters and Gripens would also benefit Ukraine.
The minister further emphasized Ukraine’s strong desire for Germany to actively participate in training Ukrainian pilots on the Eurofighter.
“Our British partners are prepared to offer training courses on the Eurofighter for Ukrainians, and we are currently discussing with our Swedish friends how to initiate training on Saab Gripen planes,” Reznikov explained.
The plan to train Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) pilots on F-16 fighters is currently underway with the support of Denmark and the Netherlands.
Reznikov revealed that Ukraine is also negotiating with Poland and Belgium to train Ukrainian military pilots on combat aircraft. Denmark has proposed that training for the AFU on F-16 fighters could commence in July.
While several partners of Ukraine have expressed their commitment to training Ukrainian pilots, no country has yet committed to providing modern Western fighter jets.
If the decision is made to transfer combat aircraft, it is estimated that it would take several months, according to assessments from the United States. Nonetheless, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense is optimistic that F-16s will arrive in Ukraine by the fall.
Eurofighter Typhoon For Ukraine?
Despite Ukraine’s hopeful outlook on acquiring Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft from Germany, Berlin and London have expressed hesitancy in providing this fighter jet to Kyiv.
In mid-May, during a press conference held in Berlin, UK Defense Minister Ben Wallace, alongside his German counterpart, affirmed their commitment to providing ongoing military support to Ukraine.
However, they explicitly stated they would not send Eurofighter Typhoon jets, citing the lack of required capacity and other problems.
The British Minister said that currently, Britain has no plans to provide Ukraine with fighter jets. He pointed out that the UK’s Typhoon fighter jets would not be suitable for Ukraine and would require substantial support personnel in the conflict zone.
Wallace further mentioned that the UK could contribute in terms of training and support, albeit with certain limitations. He also stated that the UK and Germany would cooperate on this issue and assist other allies who expressed a desire to send combat aircraft to Ukraine.
The Ukraine Air Force currently deploys Soviet-era fighter jets, including the Su-24, Su-25, Su-27, and MiG-29. Recently, Poland transferred ten MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine.
But, the Ukrainian president has consistently stressed the necessity of acquiring more advanced aircraft to effectively counter the state-of-the-art fighters of the VKS (Russian Aerospace Forces).
Justin Bronk, a senior research fellow specializing in airpower and technology at the UK-based Royal United Services Institute, said that acquiring additional MiG-29s would not adequately address Ukraine’s challenges.
He pointed out that Russian counterparts would still outmatch these jets in crucial aspects such as range, sensor capabilities, and weapon systems.
While providing MiG-29s can be somewhat useful and assist in replacing previous losses, it does not bring about substantial changes beyond that scope.
However, he also explained that Eurofighter Typhoons would not offer a solution to the significant air defense threat posed by Russia.
The Typhoon fighter jet is not well-suited for operations from the scattered, relatively short, and challenging airbases that the Ukrainian Air Force relies on to evade Russian missile attacks.
Moreover, even a small number of Tranche 1 Typhoons allocated to Ukraine would consume a significant amount of limited spare parts, engineering resources, and aircraft frames, putting additional strain on an already stretched fleet.