🛫 F-16s for Ukraine: The "Magic" Cure or Just More Headaches?

AC-130 go Down Under - The little Coup d'état That Never Was

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Radar Scope:

Ukraine is soon to receive and start flying the greatest fighter jet man has created, the Mighty Viper. The U.S. approved Denmark and the Netherlands transfer of F-16 (Why does Denmark and the Netherlands need permission to transfer F-16? See Bottom of newsletter).

Let’s skip the politics and hold off on hanging the party banners so we can take a deeper look and then talk about our feelings.

 1. Delivery – More than Just a FedEx Shipment: This isn't quite overnight shipping, despite the F-16’s top end speed of mach 2.05. The Danes, generous souls that they are, will be taking three years to deliver 19 F-16s. And the Dutch? Still keeping us in suspense about their delivery count and timeline. Bottom line, this isn’t happening fast and will most likely not be a game changer in Ukraine’s defense strategy.

 2. Training – It's kinda like riding a bike…but different: Sure, piloting an F-16 might sound cool on paper (or in Top Gun), but it takes more than staying at a Holiday Inn Express. 11 countries are pitching in the fight to train Ukrainian pilots and maintainers. Probably don’t have to say it but I will say it…it is going to take considerable time for these pilots and maintainers to fully hone their Viper skills.

3. Maintenance 🔧 – Bust out the Flex Seal…we’re gonna need it: On a great day, every Ukrainian Viper Driver will land, brush the dust from their left sleeve due to the M61 Vulcan slinging 20MM firecrackers downrange and shaking the cockpit insulation out all over the pilot…but once they land the maintenance team takes over.  A guess, an F-16 will require about 15 hours of maintenance for every one flight hour. This doesn’t happen all at once but at some point, the piper will come a calling.

Picture of cover of Haynes F-16 operating manual. Play on Haynes car manuals for mechanis

Haynes F-16 Manual

 4. Parts & Logistics – Like building IKEA Furniture? Yes? Well do we have the job for you.  First, poke yourself in the eye and buckle up.  You can’t run down to Autozone and pick up a spare part, shocking. Parts are held in limited stock and often have to be “cannibalized” from other aircraft or ordered from the Bone Yard.  Did I mention the IKEA manual is 45,000 pages in this case (pure guess…but it’s long sts…and it’s in English).

5. Contested Environment – Understatement of the Newsletter – Ukraine is at war. While some of us thrive under pressure, some might argue this is a sub optimal environment to onboard a new major weapon system. Russian fighters and Surface-to-Air Missiles systems will keep these newly minted Viper Drivers on their toes. Check 6.

✈️ AC-130 First Visit to Australia in 60 Years…or ever. The guys and gals of Air Force Special Operations Command achieved escape velocity and snagged a “good deal” TDY…finally. They are used to hanging around all the “garden spots” of the world but they finally made it to Australia. Congrats!

✈️ “He gone!”…well U.S. Intelligence Officials Assess Likely “He Gone!” Wagner Group leader Yevgeniy Prigozhin is presumed dead. But you already knew that. Straight to No one asked me, but here’s my opinion - If you are going to lead a coup or going to go on a “hike” to Moscow one weekend…you better make it count. This guy far exceeded his life expectancy after his June march.

From Batman movie, vilian Bain is telling one of the passangers he must stay on board becuase they expect to find a certain number of boides in the wreckage. In the movie Bain intentionaly had the plane crashed.

✈️ This Ukraine crisis that we’re in right now, this is just the warmup,” Stratetic Command boss Navy Admiral Charles A. Richard, has warned that the U.S. should anticipate, and prepare for, a protracted conflict with China in the near future.

No one asked me, but here’s my opinion - Jury’s out but this one probably won’t end well.

Why does Denmark and the Netherlands need the permission of the U.S. to give away their F-16’s?

A: Because the Arms Export Control Law says they need to, sure they could ignore it but would they get anymore toys? No. “Pursuant to Section 3 of the Arms Export Control Act, if a country to which the United States has provided an item of military equipment wants to transfer that item to another country…the country must first obtain permission from the U.S. Government to do so.” - U.S. State Department

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