Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 23, 2023

F-16s To Ukraine

A few days ago U.S. President Joe Biden announced the training of Ukrainian pilots for the F-16 multirole fighter aircraft:

President Joe Biden told G7 leaders on Friday that the US would join in efforts to train Ukraine’s pilots on fourth generation fighter jets including the F-16s, a senior administration official told CNN on Friday.

This has obviously been in the planning for some time. The timing of the announcement at the G7 summit was simply chosen to maximize the propaganda value for Biden.

The process we have seen has repeated itself again and again. As pro-Ukrainian blogger (with no military knowledge) describes it:

This has clearly become a proxy war between Russia and NATO, supercharging the political considerations inherent to any war. Ukraine’s goal is to wheedle as much military aid as humanly possibly out of NATO, especially the United States. The United States’ goal is more complex: give enough aid to push Russia back, but not so much that its proxy war with Russia escalates into an actual one.

This dynamic has created a Hunger Games scenario where Ukraine is constantly playing to the cameras to cajole extra gifts from the wealthy sponsors who watch its every move over the internet in real time. I had decided against using this analogy until I saw Ukrainians themselves using it. There is something grotesque and sobering about finding yourself in this position, and writing about it. But it is what it is.

I had assumed that F-16 training had in fact already started several weeks back. The EU blabber mouth Josep Borrell now all but confirmed it:

The European Union’s foreign policy chief said on Tuesday that the US green light to allow Ukrainian pilots to get training to fly F-16s has created an inexorable momentum that will inevitably bring the fighter jets to the Ukrainian battlefield.
Borrell added that training for Ukrainian pilots had already begun in Poland and some other countries, though authorities in Warsaw could not immediately confirm the news. The Netherlands and Denmark, among others, are also making plans for such training.

No decision on actually delivering fourth-generation fighter jets has been taken yet, but training pilots now – a process that takes several months – will help speed up battle readiness once a formal decision is made.

The process will be much faster than many assume.

The jets the Ukraine will get have already been selected and will go through ready maintenance. The Ukrainian pilots, who already have some experience on other fighter jets, will get just a short introduction course - six to eight weeks or even less. They do not need to train air to air fights because the F-16 would lose any such fight against the newer and better armed Russian jets. They just need to learn the basics, starting, landing, going up to a certain height and launch point, release whatever long range weapon will be on board. Anything else would be suicide.

The big question is where to start and land from. The F-16 has a relative short combat range of some 500 kilometer and there will be no air to air tankers. There ain't that many airfield that are suitable for the fighter jet's missions.

Someone who seems competent explains the problem (edited):

The Ukrainian Air Force, to my knowledge, has had to use guerilla airfield tactics to keep the Russians guessing as to where they are operating from. This is to prevent Moscow from targeting the aircraft/impromptu airfield from drone attacks and air strikes, destroying stationary aircraft or the rendering the “runway” unusable. Soviet-built aircraft are sublimely suited to this.

For ex, the MiG-29 “Fulcrum” uses automatic Foreign Object Debris (FOD) covers that close for initial start up (vid). Meanwhile louvres located at the top of the wing-root open to provide alternate air intake to the jet engines. Upon take off, once the weight on wheels (WoW) switch in the nose gear detects it is off the ground, the louvers cycle closed and the FOD covers on the primary intake retract, allowing max airflow to the engines once the danger of FOD damage has passed. This ingenious design allows the Fulcrum to operate, not only from unimproved runways or even highways, but even from grass fields. The wing itself and the distance to the ground preventing small stones and debris from getting sucked into the delicate engines.

I cannot stress how dangerous and debilitating FOD is to aircraft. A single rock, bolt, nut, or minor road debris can have a cataclysmic effect on a modern high-performance jet engine. It may not even happen immediately, the damage could happen on take off, then progressively get worse during flight as the blades, now potentially bent or unbalanced begin to self-destruct the engine internals. Even if a MiG-29 happens to shell out an engine because of the careless placement of a bolt or tool by a mechanic or the ingestion of a bird during flight or take off, the MiG HAS TWO ENGINES which are isolated in separate bays, preventing the destruction of one engine from FOD-ing out the second.

The F-16, by contrast, is definitely not suited for this style of airfield. The bottom of the intake lip sits approximately 30” from the ground with no provision of alternate intake. In addition, all the suction flow of that air comes from the sides, fore, and ground since no air can be ingested from above the engine (that’s where the fuselage is). With no provision for FOD protection or alternate, high-mounted intakes during the entire time spent on the ground, this calls for rigid and inflexible FOD control measures from the location of engine start, to taxiing routes to the runway.

In the USAF, this meant hundreds of maintainers walking at arms-length intervals two to three times a day with eyes on the ground looking for any and every piece of debris that could be ingested by the multi-million dollar vacuum cleaner with only ONE engine we were charged with maintaining. In addition, an almost constant procession of street-cleaners rumbled up and down the flightline, taxiways and runway. Everything had to be spotless lest we risk the aircraft, or worse, the pilots.

Imagine the preparation it would take to complete this process on a 10,000 foot long straight highway, in the dark, while trying to be as inconspicuous as possible so as not to draw the attention of collaborators or Russian spies. You couldn’t hop from highway to highway or run from unimproved airfields like the Ukrainian Air Force can do with MiG-29s, you’d be handcuffed or at the very least less mobile. Imagine a disused Soviet airfield that suddenly had all its weeds plucked from the cracks in the concrete, concrete patched, the runway spotless. What signal does that send? “F-16s could, will, or are operating from here.”

There are several other issues discussed in the above thread. The maintenance philosophy behind U.S. and Russian build planes is different. The Russians just change factory parts and systems, U.S. maintainer try to repair them locally:

The MiG-29 averages about 11 hrs of maintenance for every ONE hr of flight. The F-16? A whopping increase to 18.5 maintenance hrs for every one hr of flight time. These are per aircraft with experienced crews. These figures also assume decent airframe hours on the aircraft.

The Ukraine will also need a sufficient number of competent maintainers. The training for them will likely take more time than for the pilots. The author of the above suggests a solution:

Plenty of mechanics in Europe and the US are happy to lend their services to the UAF as members of the “International Legion” or the modern day iteration of the “Flying Tigers”. Myself included.

Well, good luck doing maintenance on the F-16s that will soon sit on those few available and thereby quite vulnerable Ukrainian airfields.

Russian air defenses, from the ground and from the air, can certainly suppress any F-16 flights coming near to them.

The only sensible purpose of those planes is thereby their one or two time use as a launching vehicles for long range missiles like the British Storm Shadow cruise missiles that were given to Ukraine. It is easy to train for those missions but I doubt that they will make any noticeable difference.

Posted by b on May 23, 2023 at 14:53 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Thanks for the ongoing posting b

I see the F-16 as only having propaganda and stall value to the current situation.

Too little and too late to change the course of the SMO and civilization war we are in.

Maybe some entertainment value in showing how stupid empire can be as it crashes along with its worthless planes.

Posted by: psychohistorian | May 23 2023 15:05 utc | 1

Ah, remember when Joe Biden said that giving fighters to Ukraine would be WWIII so he wouldn’t do it?

I don’t think that Russia’s lack of kinetic response to various escalations is the reason the US is now supporting F-16’s, etc. Rather it’s that Biden and company don’t know what to do except escalate. Each escalation has been the “one simple trick” that will turn things around until it’s put into practice and doesn’t change anything. All they really have is eairher back down or escalate further. They simply cannot do the former so the latter is the only option.

Posted by: Lex | May 23 2023 15:05 utc | 2

Ukrainians don't even need F-16s. They just crossed the border with Russia and terrorized/killed innocent civilians there. They don't fear Russia at all. If this sort of attack happened on U.S. soil from either Canada or Mexico, there would be a pile of corpses a mile high.

Posted by: bored | May 23 2023 15:10 utc | 3

I wish people would stop using Lockheed marketing language. They came up with it to tout their stealth designs for the F-22 and F-35 which are expensive. Unfortunately, stealth is (a) just a form of ECM which, like all ECM, can be countered and (b) you can modify so-called fourth generation A/C (F-15s/F-16s/F-18s) to be more or less as stealthy as the F-22 and 35.

Posted by: Jeff Harrison | May 23 2023 15:11 utc | 4

F-16s? Nothing that the S-400 can't easily handle.

Antoinetta III

Posted by: Antoinetta III | May 23 2023 15:11 utc | 5

thanks b, always interesting.
Some people within military are saying that no existing pilots of Ukraine are to be considered for the F16. I think they will use those pilots to die first, because their reactions to a new plane will be those of the old plane in a stress situation. They will kill themselves by reacting wrongly to the plane. These same people suggest that the original emergency responses can not be unlearned easily or quickly. Cannon fodder is all they will be.
What happened to all the other planes given by various nazi governments? Shot down? Destroyed on the ground?
The war games coming up in June are Nato all around the Ukraine. They will be bringing dozens of nations together to pretend war against Russia. They will fly the planes they have promised to Ukraine and no one is stupid enough to believe they will be Ukrainian pilots.

Never believed my nation would degenerate from a man like JFK to the crap we have had since. Maybe you do need a rich president that can't be bribed to eliminate the gathering scum at the top.

Posted by: Tard | May 23 2023 15:11 utc | 6

Sure “training” in works. It’s called “Defender23” “exercise” June 12-20th, where filly trained NATO “Ukrainians” just happen to fly f16-f22 & f-35 on a Crimea bombing campaign at the same time as the “exercise”…
What a coincidence!

Why does everyone not get Col. McGregorS anxiety on steroids of late?
Or notice the multiple nations visiting the Kremlin to sign “security exchange” contracts, or the visit upcoming with Defense entourage from China? Or the African Union peace push? Or the Pope peace push? List goes on and on…
Everyone (including Kissinger) knows it’s on…
All are expecting Russia to blink at the Defender23 “show” coming up, France offering “security guarantees” …Belograd is just the beginning… they believe Russia will take the damage and continue their methodical SMO.

Who knows, they may or may not.

Posted by: Trubind1 | May 23 2023 15:13 utc | 7

In other words, a huge amount of manpower will be required to deploy and maintain these elderly fighters and keep them running.Pretty much par for the course for US military equipment..Furthermore, their runways will need to be frequently changed to keep Russian missiles from wrecking the whole operation..Sounds like the game isn't worth the candle....

Posted by: pyrrhus | May 23 2023 15:24 utc | 8

They said MONTHS ago that they were training Ukro pilot on the F-16 (right here in the USA)... how long are they gonna ride this propaganda horse?

Posted by: Oldcutlas | May 23 2023 15:26 utc | 9

Cross border raids are almost impossible to prevent, though they are easily crushed.
There is no way that Russia can protect every inch of its western borders- a point that Lavrov made when requesting negotiations on mutual security.
In the end the only way to stop the raids is to eliminate the power behind them or push the border so far west- the traditional Russian cure- that raiders will never reach their real targets.

All of which is perfectly obvious and well understood by all parties.

The only real mystery is whether Ukraine's sponsors will come to reason before they make nuclear war inevitable. At the moment the signs are not propitious- those running the Empire are either literally or mentally silly children.
Such a war would be a disaster for everyone but for the old Imperial metropoli of Europe and the Creole former colonies it would be the end. The world would survive but they would be wiped out.

Posted by: bevin | May 23 2023 15:28 utc | 10

The Battle Not Addressed

To understand the future of the SMO it is imperative to examine all elements of the conflict. What is visible on the ground in 404 is the top of the iceberg. Beneath the visible conflict there lies a massive ice block slowly grinding its way along the ocean floor, a source of endless friction left unspoken in our focus on wanderwaffen, industrial capacity, and the weight of shells fired each day.

It is this unspoken set of issues which lie at the heart of the conflict, which will do much to shape the outcome, and which are central to the final victory.

The issue was first described by Nietzsche in 1886:

It is nothing more than a moral prejudice that truth is worth more than semblance. It is, in fact, the worst proved supposition in the world . . . Why might not the world which concerns us - be a fiction?

You can unpack Nietzsche's statement in a number of ways. Many of these intellectual directions lead to blind alleys of little immediate concern. The contemporary significance of Nietzsche's insight can be found in a statement describing the conduct of the current world hegemon:

'We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out.

This statement is alleged to have been uttered by Karl Rove former Deputy White House Chief of Staff and head of the White House Office of Strategic Initiatives. The quoted statement demonstrates the operationalization of Nietzsche's insight, its practical real world application.

We are all familiar with the toy Russian doll. It separates into two halves and reveals, contained within, a second Russian doll which also separates into two halves revealing a third Russian doll containing within a fourth Russian doll . . . ad infinitum.

This concept of infinite regression can be traced to Hindu mythology but it reappears in the work of Locke, Fichte, Hume, Bertrand Russell, Stephan Hawking, even in the US Supreme Court decision in Rapanos v. United States.

What is noteworthy in Nietzsche's statement is the separation between "truth" and "substance." There exists something of substance, the hard reality on which we each hit our head, and then there is a quality we describe as "truth" a communication purporting to describe the substantial reality which caused our headache.

Truth claims are easily distorted. According to Z Artyomovsk remains under his control. According to Norwegian | May 22 2023 19:47 utc | 116 Artyomovsk has been recognised as Russia's new cultural capital. Currently 99% of the city's population are "musicians."

Distorted truth claims are central to much humor. The distortion juxtaposes two variants of the same truth claim and exposes the invalidity of the truth claim in a way that cuts to the very heart of the issue. This is the reason we enjoy comedy; its revealed ironies enable us to laugh at the often painful reality of our lives.

But reality, as demonstrated by the conflict in 404, is deadly serious. 14,000 dead due to recurrent shelling from 2014 to the present. In excess of 300,000 dead since 2022. There is nothing remotely funny about these numbers.

The question is Why? Europe has a long history of warfare and its effects. How could it not foresee the present tragedy? The Global South has experienced its own forever sequence of endless conflict. Why did the Ukraine war start? Who is responsible? Who failed to listen to Putin as far back as the 2007 Munich security conference? Who failed to heed the prescient words of John Kennan? Not just the warning contained in his long telegram of 1946 (see ) but his 1948 warning on Ukraine that no Russian government would ever accept Ukrainian independence.

What of Kennan’s letters to Bill Clinton’s deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbott:

And the question, in the face of all that, is: how are the Russians to interpret the participation of the NATO powers, and particularly the U.S., in this rather farcical (from the naval standpoint) but nonetheless serious (from the political one) undertaking? The anti-Russian nature of the planned exercise is indeed unmistakable. So is the motivation of the Ukrainians in inviting western participation in it namely the hope of involving the NATO navies on the Ukrainian side in case the conflict over the Crimea should at any time assume active military dimensions. And the question, I repeat, then presents itself: how is NATO’s involvement in this venture to be viewed in Russia? Can it really be made seriously to fit with the effort of the NATO powers to persuade Russia that the extension of the NATO borders toward the Russian frontier in Eastern Europe has no immediate military connotations?

And if there is no visible way of reconciling these two evidences of NATO policy, does this not suggest some serious lack of policy coordination somewhere along the line in both NATO and our own government?

Kennan’s question gets at the heart of the problem. How could NATO be at once a “defensive alliance” and yet an expanding one, with political and economic ambitions that would make Russia the net loser of expansion?

Has no one in America or Europe ever heard of John Mearsheimer?
in 2014, after Russia annexed Crimea, Mearsheimer wrote that “the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for this crisis.”?

Is the New Yorker so popular that no one reads it any more? Has no one in any Western institution of even marginal repute ever heard of Stephen Cohen:

Steve was the only major figure in America who insisted on remembering the Russian-speaking Ukrainians who, like my family members, distrusted and hated the new Kiev government. He spoke of neo-Nazi paramilitiaries who fought for the US-backed government committing war crimes against civilians in eastern Ukraine. He spoke the truth, regardless of how unwieldy it was.

If we truly wish to understand the source of the confict in 404 we need to return to Nietzsche and contemplate the elements of his insight and the fact he places the moral issue ahead of the the question of substance, or of truth. It is the moral issue which mediates between truth and substance. And it is moral issues which underlie the present conflict and will decide the future of human kind.

The moral issues represent the mass of ice cold glacial concerns deeply hidden beneath the conflict raging across the turbulent surface above.

All this raises the question of what will occur when a state, or a statesman, guided by a strong commitment to moral/religious values, to respect for the letter and intent of the law, respectful of the interests of 3rd parties, engages with a state or statesman with total contempt for moral/religious values (the rejected precepts of the "deplorables"), a state willing to bend the law in pursuit of specific self-interest objectives, a ruling elite lacking in concern for the interests of any counter party: "You fucked up. You believed us."

The question the reader must answer is this:
What happens when a clergyman meets a psychopath and both men are armed with nuclear weapons?

Posted by: Sushi | May 23 2023 15:28 utc | 11

Alex C of the Duran speculates that the F16s, quite likely with NATO crews, will fly out of NATO bases in Poland and elsewhere. When that happens, the Russians may respond by destroying those bases. As they will then be in a full on shooting war with NATO, why stop there? As this is all about the Aegis nuclear sites in Poland and Romania, presumably they, together with Ramstein, will also be targeted.

Posted by: Alex Cox | May 23 2023 15:32 utc | 12

Former F-16 pilot says he would not want to fly missions over Ukraine right now, arguing 'there is no fighting chance'

He is talking about fighting missions which are unlikely to happen.

Posted by: b | May 23 2023 15:36 utc | 13

One nitpick, according to this source, the F16's combat range is 500 miles (860 kilometers) which would allow Ukraine to use air fields at least somewhat west of Kiev.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | May 23 2023 15:37 utc | 14

Simplicius76 has in his latest article reiterated the Ukranazi use of makeshift highways as airports for their fighters: the article, BTW, inadvertently exposes the hollow claims of sewer gasbags like Martyanov that the Ukranazi air force was destroyed in the first few days of combat and has a good explanation of why Russia is unable to strike these road airports. Simplicius76, however, missed out on the F 16's chin intake vulnerability to FOD operating from rough runways.

The options, as I see it, are

1. F 16s operating from Polish and Romanian airports, making brief dashes into Ukranazistan, and launching missiles at extreme range at Russian forces for purely PR effect. (Russian warnings against this can correctly be dismissed as hot air like all the other Russian red line warnings).

2. F 16s operating from Ukranazistani main airports, risking being destroyed on the ground unless they get warned in time by NATO of incoming Russian missiles: most likely scenario.

3. F 16s operating from makeshift airports, risking bird strikes or FOD damage destroying them without Russia having to do a thing.

4. 1, 2, and 3 above, only with NATO pilots at the controls. This is the equivalent of the Korean War when Russian and Chinese pilots flew MiG 15s in North Korean insignia, so it has a precedent.

None of the above will do Ukranazistan any good, but it will damage the reputation of the F 16 among Amerikastani fanboys in countries like India when said F 16s get shot out of the skies. So it's all to the good.

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | May 23 2023 15:38 utc | 15

Russia Warns US Against Enabling Attacks on Crimea

Russia slams US for ‘approval’ of Ukrainian strikes on Crimea

US Air Force chief comments on impact of F-16s in Ukraine

The first time one of these F-16s manages to get close enough to launch a missile at Crimea (if one does given the 500km range), Russia will be forced to consider hitting those Polish or Romanian airfields. And since the pilots will be US or NATO airmen, they will be shot down, captured upon ejecting, and imprisoned and tried as mercenaries.

That's assuming b is right and some of these planes will actually show up before the war is over in the next 6-9 months.

And even if they don't, once again there is little question that the US and Russia are heading directly to WWIII. There is nothing and no one who can stop it because nothing and no one can remove the people running the Biden administration.

Posted by: Richard Steven Hack | May 23 2023 15:40 utc | 16

Very good article explaining why F-16 is no replacement for Mig-29. I learned something.

Posted by: Norwegian | May 23 2023 15:41 utc | 17

Posted by: Alex Cox | May 23 2023 15:32 utc | 12

Alex C of the Duran speculates that the F16s, quite likely with NATO crews, will fly out of NATO bases in Poland ... the Russians may respond by destroying those bases.

My prediction is that the Russians will not destroy the bases by destroy the fighter planes on the return journey.
They'll leave it up to the host country to decide if they want to take offense to that ...

Posted by: Arch Bungle | May 23 2023 15:42 utc | 18

Posted by: Arch Bungle | May 23 2023 15:42 utc | 18


My prediction is that the Russians will not destroy the bases *but instead* destroy the fighter planes on the return journey.

Posted by: Arch Bungle | May 23 2023 15:43 utc | 19

re: Borrell added that training for Ukrainian pilots had already begun in Poland
..from Kyiv Independent, May 23, 2023
Air Force denies start of F-16 training, says preparations underway.
Ukraine's Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat refuted reports that Ukrainian pilots were already learning to fly F-16 fighter jets, saying the preparation for the program is still ongoing. . .here
. . .Now if Ursula had said it. . .s/

Posted by: Don Bacon | May 23 2023 15:45 utc | 20

I know y`all think NATO soldiers are dragqueens, but there is a lot of competent people who are really angry after Bucha. They served with the ukrainians in Baghdad. So in a way you are right, it has become a proxy war. And NATo is really angry.

Posted by: Fnord | May 23 2023 15:47 utc | 21

I don’t think that Russia’s lack of kinetic response to various escalations is the reason the US is now supporting F-16’s, etc. Rather it’s that Biden and company don’t know what to do except escalate.

Exactly, once Russia was kicked out of SWIFT (Which Wallstreet desperately tried to explain to them was a very bad idea) and a new alternative order was forced into being, the US lost Cold War 2. We're just waiting to see how badly they lost.

US hegemony is gone. Attacking Iran is off the table, let alone the military and political opposition (Those people, afterall, had to win every time, the neocons who wanted a war on Iran for Israel only had to win once) it simply isn't possible geopolitically to be so sure about it now.

It seems to me that the best analogy is that of Pearl Harbour, by seeking this insane barely proxy confrontation with Russia for seemingly no rational reason in terms of national interest (We know it's because the neocons flipped out over the Russians intervening against their intervention in Syria and atavistic ethnic animus but the fact that it's entirely neocon driven means you can't actually negotiate with the US and it's just getting into full-scale proxy wars with nuclear powers for no sane reason) you don't actually confront a threat but rather you awaken the Chinese giant and push Russia into a full-scale alliance with them. It's like the Japanese entering into a full-scale war with the US but failing to take out the carriers.

Posted by: Altai | May 23 2023 15:51 utc | 22

@15 Christian Chuba

That's Air Force propaganda. That page also claims:

With a full load of internal fuel, the F-16 can withstand up to nine G's -- nine times the force of gravity -- which exceeds the capability of other current fighter aircraft.

That's bullshit.

I have added Wikipedia as a source for my ~500 km.

Posted by: b | May 23 2023 15:53 utc | 23

The F16s aren‘t for this year. They are for the glorreiche NATO counteroffensive in late 2024 or early 2025. to support that counteroffensive - NATO will need 2,000 aircraft of all kinds. These F16s are just a drop in the bucket.

Watch this space as NATO etc builds up a 650,000 man ground force.

Pray that de-dollarization bankrupts the War Party asap

Posted by: Exile | May 23 2023 15:54 utc | 24

I suggest first letting the "hundreds of maintainers walking at arms-length intervals two to three times a day" do their work for a while, and then detonate a specially-prepared drone (preferably an insultingly cheap one with a lawnmower engine and a washing machine chip), filled with gravel, above the airfield. Repeated every time they get it cleaned.

Posted by: Mike | May 23 2023 15:55 utc | 25

I suspect the real mission of these aircraft is to gather electronic intelligence on Russian air defences and radars. They'll want to fly directly into Russian air defence zones in a manner where the Russians have to engage and shoot down the F-16's ... ideally without a US pilot on board. I wouldn't be surprised if the Ukrainians get specially equipped aircraft specifically for intelligence gathering.

Posted by: HB_norica | May 23 2023 15:55 utc | 26

Strategic and tactical considerations are a far distant second to the importance of what this says about the attitude of the empire to the war and how far they are willing to go to win. Escalate escalate, where does it stop? Bad business.

Posted by: Due West | May 23 2023 15:56 utc | 27

It is quite obvious that all the weapons must be installed in a Polish airfield due to all the specialized trolly or other install equipment required to hoist them to place.

So the range is short, useless in central or eastern Ukraine from a Polish airfield. That means they need to land at some sort of refueling point in Ukraine, which probably means any sort of improvised highway stretch. But will the F-16 chassis handle more or less rugged surfaces landing with weapons on board? That kind of limits options on what may or may not be used. Even if it's somehow possible, the whole scheme seems very inefficient.

And the question of targeting? Obviously all targeting must come from primarily from Nato Awacs planes, and secondarily from satellites. Where are the AWACS planes? The only way to get targeting data which is useful in the Kherson-Crimea-Sea of Azov area is by flying near Crimea. I'm pretty sure that this will lead to inevitable shoot downs of recon assets.

Posted by: unimperator | May 23 2023 15:57 utc | 28

Not to be outdone by America sending F16s to The Ukraine. England is sending 50 Sopwith Camels and Germany is sending 50 FoKKer DR1 Tri planes to Ukraine. These ultra modern aircraft with their high maneuverability will quickly outwit Russian AD and bring the war to a quick conclusion.
After short week long training course. The highly trained and prepared Ukrainian pilots in their latest generation aircraft will be well on their way to "Change the course of the war"

Posted by: Golddiggr | May 23 2023 15:58 utc | 29

So EU Commission has decided to finance itself using "Carbon Tariffs" on imports - probably to hurt China or Australia.............

Yet it has now decided that Weapons Imports are "carbon neutral" and tariff-free especially if they come from USA

Theatre of the Absurd

Posted by: Paul Greenwood | May 23 2023 15:59 utc | 30

@Sushi | May 23 2023 15:28 utc | 11

Great stuff, a blog within a blog. Btw. shouldn't "This concept of infinite regression " be "This concept of infinite recursion "?

Keep it coming.

Posted by: Norwegian | May 23 2023 16:00 utc | 31

At any point in the 15-month history of NATO's drip-feeding of wonder weapons, we could have asked ourselves if it's something other than incompetence behind this.

Again with the F-16--you've been planning to fight Russia for 8 years and know that only Ukraine has the ground forces and the willingness to lose a million men in the effort. You've already armed and equipped them.

Are you really going to wait to see a million men destroyed only *then* to launch some kind of hare-brained face-saving NATO 'peacekeeping' / coalition of the willing / NATO air ambush under the guise of an air exercise--until *after* you've watched your ground force destroyed three times?

When you see RF with a 10:1 casualty advantage, do you not then decide that, if the goal is not actually to help Ukraine win but to kill Russians, do you not join Ukraine in direct conflict *then* rather than wait for NATO itself to be bled out and humiliated?

I get why these fanatics can't stop escalating. Harder to understand why they are doing it so slowly, in a manner so congenial to Russia's defense-industrial superiority.

Is it that they're still trying to get the conflict back on the Plan A track: see Ukraine occupied & then unleash the Kraken of Gehlenist 2.0 / Afghanistan mujahideen 2.0? Saying to Russia, will you hurry up and take your territory already?

But still, there is no way that the current track or the counter-insurgency track are consistent with keeping Odessa for NATO. If you had *one* priority, surely it was not to spend 100k casualties to defend Bakhmut, FFS, but to conserve them & the rest of AFU to retain the one piece of Ukraine you actually care about.

Mystifying. Anyone care to weigh in? Bevin, James, Outlander, Karlof1, Peter AU...?

Posted by: Paul Damascene | May 23 2023 16:00 utc | 32


650,000 ground force . ????????

Funny. Ukraine had more than that to start with.

So Biden is bringing in a Draft to find the numbers.............noone in Europe can find 650,000 soldiers .........guess it is all those National Guard in USA and College kids..........

Posted by: Paul Greenwood | May 23 2023 16:01 utc | 33

Thanks, b, for the report and the context /fact-checking. I checked La Presse for their take on the facts.

There’s this report on Biden and the F-16 delivery:
« Coalition Internationale » cries out Rishi Sunak (Heaven help us)

Then there’s this other aviation report on Canada’s new airline, Lynx Air:
« De Montréal-Trudeau, Lynx commencera par offrir des liaisons directes vers Vancouver, Calgary et Saint John’s, à Terre-Neuve-et-Labrador. Par la plaque tournante qu’est la ville de Calgary, les voyageurs en provenance de la métropole auront accès à plusieurs villes canadiennes comme Vancouver et Victoria, ainsi qu’à quelques villes américaines comme Las Vegas, Los Angeles et Phoenix. »

Now’s the time for airline expansion, is it? Raging fuel prices, inflation, global recession, Covid, restrictions on airspace, shortage of pilots?…

Zelensky and Macron at the G7, just for kicks:

Posted by: Bruised Northerner | May 23 2023 16:10 utc | 34

These F-16 transfers are just a scheme to force NATO countries to pony up for F-35 replacements, which they otherwise would never have gone for because the F-35 is a poorly-engineered and very expensive lemon. In combat trials against the F-16, the F-35 showed itself to be "substantially inferior" according to the test pilot.

Posted by: Palm & Needle | May 23 2023 16:12 utc | 35

Yeah, b, I worked on the Luke afb west of Phoenix where I believe they were fa-18s. They would fire them up and work on them for hours before taking off. Then repeat it after landing. We were close enough to practically spit on them. Also, I'm not sure many know this, but every US base has its own color. It was Luke taupe there. Everything was that color, even the concrete we poured.

Posted by: Immaculate deception | May 23 2023 16:17 utc | 36

The fall of Bakhmut was the real gamechanger.

Posted by: Jonathan W | May 23 2023 16:18 utc | 37

According to the armchair generals at quora, all the f16 has to do is fly high and drop laser guided bombs and bye bye s300 installation. I assume the s300 is not allowed to fire back in this scenario.

Posted by: Oh | May 23 2023 16:22 utc | 38

I too believe they will have to fly out of Poland. The logistics tail to keep the F-16s flying is long and complicated. Despite what another expert says, maintenance on the F-16 is to swap parts....virtually no repairs are performed on base. All avionics is refurbished at depot and placed back into supply. Since there is already a US presence in Poland they could probably handle getting parts for the UKie jets. There will also be the problem of different blocks and the variations between US avionics and that which is allowed for export.

I can assure you that the F-16 can pull 9 Gs, pilots regularly do it in the 2 seaters when giving incentive flights to maintainers and other special guests.

Posted by: dan of steele | May 23 2023 16:23 utc | 39

I have considerable (40 years) experience with USAF airfield construction & maintenance, RRR, contingency operations, etc., and I can definitively say that the referenced source (a USAF ordinance specialist or "BB Stacker") is overstating the airfield limitations for F-16 operations (10,000' minimum runway? Please). Any airfield suitable for a MiG-29 can be made suitable for an F-16. Hell, they can operate the damned things off a highway if they have to.

Posted by: Duke | May 23 2023 16:23 utc | 40

The F-16 should now officially be called the Fe-262: both came too late to make a difference in a war already lost, both were ‘game changers’ in name only and both were flown by Nazis.

Posted by: Milites | May 23 2023 16:25 utc | 41

I imagine that in reality, those F16's will fly out of Poland or maybe Moldavia with "Ukrainian" pilots.

It seems the pattern is that if they say that they will not do something that in fact they will and
If they say it will happen in some months then it will happen in weeks.

Posted by: jared | May 23 2023 16:26 utc | 42

Defender 23 NATO air games.
Appears to have started already in Albania AP News

TIRANA, Albania (AP) — Forces from NATO member nations and other countries on Monday launched joint military exercises in Albania and other Balkan states.

The two-week Immediate Response maneuvers - the second of three such drills l

It seems quite probable that UKR pilots will start flying over Europe during this.

The third segment of Defender 23 in June appears to involve flying over the Baltic ministates, starting from Germany and flying east. "Able Archer" springs to mind. Many of us already have boggled minds, this will be another mind boggling insanity of provocation.

There is no way I can predict the situation on the ground in Ukraine in mid June, but RF being in a very intense counter-offensive or just offensive operation(s) is possible. Russia can not but respond in preparation that NATO will start offensive operations.

"Alas Babylon" by Frank Hart is available on has "Shorty" accidentally starting WWIII while flying off the coast of Syria. One rogue pilot or error in navigation could touch off the fuse. It appears that the great minds of NATO are going to be juggling chickens with chain saws in mid June. What could go wrong?

Posted by: paxmark1 | May 23 2023 16:28 utc | 43

Posted by: Sushi | May 23 2023 15:28 utc | 11
(Nietzschie's Rove insight)

Yes, that's relevant. However one need not go that far back to find a key to cuŕrent maniacal US thinking. A bloke in the late '60s/early '70s wrote a biz-management related book called The Peter Principal. His theory is that aspirational people tend to be promoted on merit until they reach their level of incompetence, where they remain.
Sums up the Neocons quite well...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | May 23 2023 16:32 utc | 44

Posted by: Duke | May 23 2023 16:23 utc | 39

Doubt the F-16 can operate from a grass strip, unless ‘made suitable’ means tarmacking it over for the F-16!

Posted by: Milites | May 23 2023 16:33 utc | 45

The F-16s will operate out of Romania and fly as far as Odessa/Crimea/Kherson. Poland to Donbas is just too far. Pilots will be US, probably retired pilots. Maintenance will not be needed as the luckiest planes wil do two, maybe three missions before being shot down. That is all if any of this gets off the ground.

F-16 is not far from the point where they get sold to wealthy hobbyists and collectors. Fish in a barrel for RF.

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2023 16:35 utc | 46

it takes far longer to put together the operational support for a tactical aircraft than to train pilots!

the schedule to deliver a fighter starts with delivering support equipment and test gear to "generate" a sortie. in case of eu f-16's that would imply donor country shut down a squadron to free up operational support assets to be delivered to the airfield where the ukronazis might fly an f-16. since the f-16 is 40 odd years old a lot of the operational support is refitted numerous times..... and suggests most are scarce to find. maybe usaf units will donate their deployable operational support and become less combat ready than they are now.

once support equipment is deliver one of two f-16's are delivered to the activating unit to train technicians, these technicians have already gone to the f-16 schools! they then on the job train on dedicated equipment to generate aircraft! these workers are usually military, and contractors would be hard to find as they work different suspect than generating sorties. maybe usaf personnel go on leave to work for ukronazis!

once you have tools and people then you need to deliver spare parts, and spare engines (with the heavy tools and stands to work the engine removals). again how many eu/usaf units degrade combat readiness for ukronazis?

donate around 70 f-16 would come up to the $11B that nbc news alluded to last week.

all to launch stand-off cruise missiles from safe (?) distances!

f-16 owned by usaf has not met budgeted readiness in the past 11 fiscal years as reported by gao.

maybe they vacationing usaf airmen will survive attacks on their ukronazi airfield.

Posted by: paddy | May 23 2023 16:36 utc | 47

Any location hosting combat aircraft engaged in combat over Ukraine is a Co-Belligerent and subject to destruction

I am sure Russian rockets can reach Romania or Poland or even Spangdahlem.

Quite why countries want to turn themselves into another Ukraine because the original has burned out eludes me. Clearly Zelensky has great skills at inviting people into the funeral pyre

At the end of the road is destruction of the Europesn electricity grid and all data centres and telecoms which should make for an interesting future

Posted by: Paul Greenwood | May 23 2023 16:37 utc | 48

Posted by: Milites | May 23 2023 16:33 utc | 44

I guess I should have said "any hardened airfield". USAF fighters don't do well off unimproved surfaces.

Posted by: Duke | May 23 2023 16:38 utc | 49

@Milites | May 23 2023 16:25 utc | 40

The F-16 should now officially be called the Fe-262: both came too late to make a difference in a war already lost, both were ‘game changers’ in name only and both were flown by Nazis.
It was Me-262 I believe

They hung there dependant from the sky
Like some heavy metal fruit
These bombers are ripe and ready to tilt
Must these Englishmen live that I might die
Must they live that I might die!

ME 262 with lyrics

Posted by: Norwegian | May 23 2023 16:38 utc | 50

Reading the entirety of the post which b has excerpted is instructive:

By contrast, western aircraft are & have been maintained by non-conscript technicians with a lot of formal education lasting months before even being granted the title “apprentice” (cant do anything without direct supervision), years before “journeyman” (can complete tasks alone or with an apprentice group, but final work must be inspected by a “craftsman” or higher), and 5+ years before becoming a “craftsman” or able to perform all tasks without supervision & can supervise other, less experienced technicians . . .

It may be true you can train someone to take-off and land in 4 weeks. But it will be impossible to provide the years of training required by maintenance technicians to support an aircraft fleet which requires 18.5 hours of service for every hour of flight.

There is something else afoot.

“Air Defender 23” is a massive NATO Exercise involving more than two hundred US and NATO aircraft, including the most advanced US air war fighter, the F-35.
Dances with Wolves

John Helmer asserts Air Defender 23 is cover for Ukrainian F-16 attacks. The RF has the capacity to launch long range air defence missiles. The problem is that on the horizon behind the approaching Ukrainian F-16 there will be a mass of 40 to 50 other aircraft. What are the chances of a missile missing the oncoming F-16 and hitting a NATO plane to its rear?

Is it possible this is exactly the purpose of “Air Defender 23.” To provide NATO with the causus belli to intervene in 404?

If I can draw this conclusion is not likely the RF General Staff may draw the same conclusion? What do you expect their response will be?

Again from Helmer:
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has been more explicit, claiming he supports air attacks on Russian territory, and is building German-Polish combat support bases on the Polish side of the border with the Ukraine. It is “completely normal” in such a military conflict, Pistorius has said, “that the attacked party also moves into the opponent’s territory, for example, to cut off supply routes.”

Posted by: Sushi | May 23 2023 16:39 utc | 51

Palm & Needle | May 23 2023 16:12 utc | 34

f-16 engines are scarce because they wear out more than planned even after 40 years!

f-35 engines are run "too hot" to deliver performance and wear out even faster than f-16 engines. iow the f-35 cannot perform as specified! this is per gao as well.

Posted by: paddy | May 23 2023 16:39 utc | 52

I can't think of any particularly useful function for these, given the operating environment, other than as a possible attempt to defeat air defense assets at distance. Basically, Ukraine has had no effective way to launch AGM-88 HARMs (I think they first tried using a ground launch workaround and then may have modified some Russian-designed aircraft received from abroad). This seems like maybe they plan to load them up with AR missiles, maybe send some drones in first to try to get the radars active, then have the F-16s rise up, release the missiles at close to max range, and immediately retreat. Maybe the hope is to degrade Russian AD. Of course, the Russians have been consistently reporting that they are shooting down these AD missiles, so, again, what's the point?

Note that this still doesn't address the elephant in the room... where the heck do you park these things?

Posted by: Brian M | May 23 2023 16:41 utc | 53

The QF-16 drone is used as target practice. It can land, and even perform evasive actions, all without a pilot.

Posted by: Wwinsti | May 23 2023 16:41 utc | 54

Posted by: paddy | May 23 2023 16:36 utc | 46

So, in the same way maritime SF units target the tugs, not the carriers, the Russians will target the maintenance personnel and facilities, not the planes themselves.

Posted by: Milites | May 23 2023 16:43 utc | 55

F-16s from where?

The UK, France and Germany all want to send F-16s to Ukraine, but none of them have any. The United States is unlikely to send any from its fleet, as it is afraid of a direct conflict with Russia. That leaves only the European vassals.

Which European countries have F-16s? Wikipedia lists Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Greece, Poland, Portugal, and Romania. Norway also had F-16s, but has just sold them to Romania. I do not know the exact figures, but each country listed has from 30 to 60 planes. Greece may have more, but it is unlikely to send any to Ukraine.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | May 23 2023 16:44 utc | 56

As I said only option is for these F16s to be housed, maintained and armed in Poland and Romania.

Anything else is suicide.

The jets will be loaded and fueled in those countries and make very quick stops on some runway in Ukraine. Then on to its mission.

As I said. Russias complaints will be laughed at by the west.

That is until Romanian and Polish runways get some gifts from Russia with love.

Posted by: Comandante | May 23 2023 16:44 utc | 57

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2023 16:35 utc | 45

All the retired USAF fighter pilots I know are (or were) flying for the airlines. They're all smart guys. None of them would want to get within a thousand miles of the Ukraine.

The idea that the U.S. or NATO would risk their multi-million-dollar active-duty pilots getting their asses waxed in this fracas is a bit much, really. They can't get or keep enough pilots as it is.

Posted by: Duke | May 23 2023 16:47 utc | 58

Which countries (that aren’t Norway or Canada) have the Saab Gripen, that’s what I want to know. According to Wikipedia, South Africa, Hungary, Czech Republic (and Sweden). Might there be something there? I’m too much of an ignoramous to even guess what but that could be something, couldn’t it?

Posted by: Bruised Northerner | May 23 2023 16:47 utc | 59

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2023 16:35 utc | 45

"The F-16s will operate out of Romania and fly as far as Odessa/Crimea/Kherson. Poland to Donbas is just too far."

Romania looks like the lucky winner for the next battlefield then, congrats! Poland probably thinks she's doing something extremely clever, just a shame their new territories have those radiation poisoning rumours wafting about. Anyway, Greater Poland it will be, the US said so!

All this Crimea talk.. scrolling around on the map, perhaps the US is still working to bring real democracy to Turkey and have those F-16s take off from there?

Posted by: Leser | May 23 2023 16:48 utc | 60

The F-16s aren't for anything other than PR and intentionally depleting US and NATO stocks to justify more money to the militaries.

I believe "combat range" is something different than actual range or service range. Likely involves full load of weapons and possibly air to air combat. There's no way a fully fueled F-15 can only travel 1,000km round trip. The "combat range" surely involves very high speeds and substitution of weapons for fuel (under the wings). Not that this matters to Ukraine lol.

Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | May 23 2023 16:49 utc | 61

Hope the folks on the ground in Ukraine ignore directives from Kiev and keep their phone cameras rolling. I want lots of videos of F-16 pieces falling from the skies. Got my popcorn and beer already for "The Big Show."

Posted by: Jack Gordon | May 23 2023 16:51 utc | 62

prediction: despite US current protestations to the contrary per the usual cycle of demand and cave they'll get access to Polish airfields with the condition that their not aerial combat missions directly from them

Posted by: mathew palmeri | May 23 2023 16:51 utc | 63

Hoarsewhisperer | May 23 2023 16:32 utc | 43

corollary to peter principle.

once every manager has reached their level of incompetence, the rest of the chain is incompetent!

usa aerospace enjoyed the last competent leader in the 1960's: kelly johnson!

Posted by: paddy | May 23 2023 16:53 utc | 64

The F-16 should now officially be called the Fe-262: both came too late to make a difference in a war already lost, both were ‘game changers’ in name only and both were flown by Nazis.

Posted by: Milites | May 23 2023 16:25 utc | 40


Each escalation has been the “one simple trick” that will turn things around until it’s put into practice and doesn’t change anything. All they really have is eairher back down or escalate further. They simply cannot do the former so the latter is the only option.

Posted by: Lex | May 23 2023 15:05 utc | 2

Some realism is needed here.

What tide exactly needs to be turned?

At the moment the war is a serious loss for Russia. None of the initial objectives have been achieved, Ukraine is more heavily militarized and more militantly anti-Russian than ever, with a tendency for that situation to get even worse, and the war is currently mostly not even fought in Ukrane -- it is almost entirely (except for the Kupyansk front) on Russian territory, Russia does not even control some 30,000 km2 of its own territory, and there is no obvious path towards capturing the whole left bank plus Nikolaev and Odessa, which is the absolute minimum satisfactory condition, let alone for kicking NATO out of Eastern Europe (and now Finland too).

Sure, people like to make comparisons to WWII and how Germany was really already losing the war in late 1941. Which might be true, but while the USSR's victory over Germany may have been predetermined by that point, what was also already predetermined was the USSR's strategic loss in WWII (it emerged as one of the two superpowers, but was mortally wounded in the process, was handicapped ever after, and eventually fell apart).

Same situation now -- how is that war going to be "won" without a nuclear exchange, and in what condition will Russia be after that? The one "hope" here is that it is highly unlikely China won't get nuked too when it comes to that, so whatever emerges from the ashes as Russia won't be automatically swallowed by a much stronger neighbor, but what kind of a "win" is that?

Posted by: shadowbanned | May 23 2023 16:53 utc | 65

Posted by: Paul Damascene | May 23 2023 16:00 utc | 31

Good point!

The "concern trolls" fretting over the lack of speed of the SMO are unusually silent over the even slower speed of US/NATO

Posted by: xLemming | May 23 2023 16:57 utc | 66

From the Ukranian publication Defence Express, 20 May 2023:

How Many F-16s Can Ukraine Count On and Why F-35 Production Plays a Decisive Role in Process of Transferring the Aircraft.

The basis of eventual coalition to supply Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets has been formed and now with a high degree of probability we can talk about when and from which countries Ukraine would receive the aircraft

After the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, officially announced the list of countries that will work together "to get Ukraine the combat air capability it needs," it is possible to finally assess whose F-16s the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will strengthen.

In particular, the list of countries that will be part of the "coalition" includes Great Britain, the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.

The main roles of each member of the coalition are quite clear from this list. In particular, it is unlikely that the transfer of aircraft should be expected from Great Britain - the Royal Air Force simply does not have F-16s. In their turn, the USA has already officially announced that they will not hand over the aircraft. At the same time, London is, at a minimum, responsible for the initial training of pilots, and without the United States, the re-export of the F-16 would be impossible.

But it seems that the real role of the USA is much broader, because in addition to agreeing to export, there is the issue of providing these combat aircraft with weapons and spare parts. It is these costs that are very significant, because, as a rule, in an export contract for the sale of aircraft, the weapons and spare parts themselves often make up about 50% of the total price tag.

The role of Denmark and the Netherlands, being donors of the vehicles themselves, is indicated by the fact that the decision regarding the transfer of the F-16 was already discussed at the official level in Denmark, and the issue of the possibility of transferring the aircraft was considered in the Netherlands at the beginning of the year. For these countries, the transfer of part of the F-16 does not pose a critical threat to defense capabilities, because they have already begun to receive the F-35 to replace the F-16.

Belgium, which is also upgrading its fleet with fifth-generation aircraft, is a bit more difficult, as the country ordered 34 F-35A aircraft in 2018 for $4.25 billion and expects the first aircraft to be delivered only after 2023. That is why the country’s government informed that Belgium would not be able to transfer fighter jets.

Thus, at this time, the F-16 aircraft fleet of Denmark and the Netherlands remains the most likely fighters for Ukraine. The estimate of the number of combat jets that can be transferred to Ukraine is directly related to the schedule of receiving the F-35 and their achievement of operational readiness.

In particular, the Netherlands ordered the first batch of 24 F-35s in 2016, which were to arrive in the country during 2020-2022. Later, this order was expanded to 46 aircraft, which were to be delivered by the end of 2023, while their achievement of full operational readiness was supposed to happen in 2024. In the summer of 2022, against the background of the large-scale invasion of the russian federation in Ukraine, the Netherlands ordered an additional 6 5th-generation aircraft.

The first 12 Dutch F-35s reached operational readiness at the end of 2021. This is what is connected with the decommissioning of 12 F-16s, which were planned to be sold to the private company Draken International. In this regard, these aircraft are currently undergoing major repairs. It was also planned to sell Draken International another 28 F-16s after the new F-35 squadrons achieve operational readiness, which should take place in 2024.

Regarding Denmark, it should be recalled that the country placed its order for 27 fifth-generation F-35 aircraft in 2016. The schedule for receiving new combat jets is also well known thanks to the country's government report. In particular, by the end of 2023, the Danish Air Force should receive 17 aircraft but some of them are used for pilot training and are in the United States.

During 2024-2026, the country should receive another 10 aircraft, in three batches - 4, 3 and 3 aircraft, respectively. Decommissioning of all 30 combat-ready F-16 fighters was planned by 2024, but this decision was later postponed to 2027. The write-off of the F-16 was tied in terms of terms to the terms of the F-35 supply. Thus, it is possible to predict with a high degree of probability that Denmark will transfer up to one squadron of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine in the short term.

Thus, if we take only the resources of the Netherlands and Denmark, at the moment we can talk about the potential possibility of Ukraine receiving one or two squadrons from the Netherlands and one from Denmark - that is, from 24 to 36 aircraft. In the future, this number can be increased to 70 F-16 as new F-35s arrive from the USA.

At the same time, it should not be ruled out that Denmark and the Netherlands may be joined by other F-16 operators who will be ready to transfer their machines to Ukraine - even with the threat of a certain reduction in their own defense capabilities. In this case, it is quite possible to talk about the satisfaction of the Air Force of Ukraine's need for five aviation brigades of Western aircraft for the full protection of Ukraine.

Posted by: horseguards | May 23 2023 16:58 utc | 67

The only logical conclusion I can get to is the following:
USA is not going to stop pushing the agenda, as long as they can get other countries people killed. The EU has lost its marbles and is willing to die for the cause. The Poles seem to be the worst afflicted.
If we think that none of these countries are interested in stopping, would it not be prudent to hit them, hard in a knock-out blow? A blow so hard, that retaliation is not even on the agenda!
It is not as if they have not been warned. And if the end result is that you have to fight them in any case, would it not be clever for you to chose the when and where and get it over with, done and dusted.

Posted by: g wiltek | May 23 2023 16:59 utc | 68

Posted by: oldhippie | May 23 2023 16:35 utc | 45

They won’t last long for sure, more a question of how long they can fly without maintenance than how much maintenance they require to operate within specs.

Missile delivery mission could be done by an extended autopilot with RC takeoff / landing. FOD screens bolted / expoxied in place, performance drop not mission critical.

This is about imposing cost on RF. AD coverage to intercept planes & weapons, some are bound to get through now and again. A steady stream of anti-radiation missiles to intercept, the odd one will slip through and wreck a radar set that costs hundreds or thousands of times more. F-16 foibles are neither here nor there, it is being cast in the role of shitwagon, clearing hangers for new MIC debt magnets.

Empire is bearing little real cost in men & materiel ... only reduction of dollar purchasing power (inflation) is hitting Empire where it hurts.

Posted by: anon2020 | May 23 2023 17:03 utc | 69

From Pravda, 22 May 2023:

F-16 fighters in Ukraine: US has not even started waging proxy war against Russia.

Following the previous moves to ship heavy tanks and long-range missiles, the West expressed its readiness to supply F-16 fighters to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

The United States will defend its assets in Ukraine fiercely

US President Joe Biden explained his U-turn on the supply of F-16 fighters to the Armed Forces of Ukraine:

"If they're successful and there ends up being an accommodation where there is not a ceasefire but there is a peace agreement that gets worked out, that they'll have the capacity to have confidence in their ability to resist response by the Russians if they were to change their position," he said at a news briefing on May 21.

Sounds vague, but, one can in fact see that Biden is certain that the conflict in Ukraine will be frozen. In this case, the United States will keep a loyal government in Ukraine.

That's when NATO will proceed to the plan to switch the Armed Forces of Ukraine to NATO standards to protect the assets that already belong to Western companies in Ukraine.

They do own a lot. Kyiv is in huge debt to the West, and the debt must be paid. The West has already bought up black soil and state-owned enterprises. US-based corporation BlackRock Financial Market Advisory (BlackRock FMA) has been appointed as an intermediary for the total sale of Ukraine's energy system and other state assets for debts.

The White House will never accept the idea of all those assets going to Russia — it will be impossible for Washington to explain to US taxpayers what their money was spent on and why.

On Friday, Biden told allies that the US would work with other countries to supply F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv and train Ukrainian pilots.
How many F-16 fighters Ukraine will receive

The coalition of F-16 suppliers already includes the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark. Italy announced its readiness for support as well.

According to Defense Express, it goes about an opportunity for Ukraine to receive one or two squadrons from the Netherlands and one from Denmark. This is 24-36 aircraft. If other countries join, then up to five squadrons will be possible. Analytical website Oryxspioenkop said that the Netherlands would soon deliver 28 aircraft to Ukraine.

US officials said that the decision on the supply of F-16 fighters to Ukraine would be finalised and announced in the upcoming months. Tellingly, the Americans refuse to ship fighter jets to Kyiv as they constantly upgrade their aircraft and do not want any of them to fall into the hands of Russia. It will also affect the reputation of the US Air Force.
Is there any benefit from F-16 fighters for Ukraine?

F-16 fighters can be used as a tactical bomber, attack aircraft, electronic warfare aircraft. Its radar can detect targets on the ground hundreds of kilometres away, thus guaranteeing safety to pilots during rocket launches.

John Venable, senior fellow for defense policy at the Heritage Foundation and veteran F-16 pilot, said that the fourth-generation aircraft, which is the F-16, is unable to withstand the S-400 air defence system. The latter is designed to hit targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometres under conditions of intense radio interference.

The F-16 has three weapons in its arsenal that could be a "game changer" as Ukrainian Air Force officials said. The weapons are:

HARM high-velocity anti-radar missile,
small diameter bomb (SDB),
joint air-to-surface missile (JASSM).

SBDs can glide for tens of kilometres after launch and hit moving targets. The gliding distance is determined by the altitude and the speed at which they are released.

According to Venable, the S-400 will detect and attack a fourth-generation fighter jet that uses small diameter bombs long before it can release those munitions.

JASSMs are stealthy cruise missiles that older versions of the F-16 can also carry. They have not obtained software or flight certifications.

John Venable believes that the conflict in Ukraine has made it very clear: there is no place for fourth-generation fighter jets on the modern battlefield. Providing Ukraine with the F-16 is commendable, but it would be a costly mistake, the expert noted.
Russia needs to change the government in Kyiv

It is believed that F-16 fighters will arrive in Ukraine in autumn. It is also believed that the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will be pushed back till autumn as well. However, this is all part of NATO's long-term programme. The conflict may then continue if NATO decided to regain control of the assets that Russia has earned in Ukraine.

The Russian forces need to go to Kyiv and change the Ukrainian government to the one that would be loyal to Russia.

As for F-16 supplies, their service and logistics are the two weak points. One requires airfields, bombs, missiles and spare parts. It is hard to imagine that these will be Ukrainian airfields as Russia can easily strike them. Therefore, aircraft maintenance and suspension of bombs and missiles will be carried out in Poland and Romania.

Russia will have to strike those airfields as there will be no other option left. Ukraine will be happy about it as it will get the West involved in direct confrontation.

Posted by: horseguards | May 23 2023 17:06 utc | 70

It seems that one of the objects is to force Russia to act emotionally and in haste - maybe to widen the conflict and to expose itself to attacks.
At some point Russia may oblige, but hopefully will be carefully considered.

I suppose those plains could be sanitized by routing over international water? Or maybe that doesnt accomplish anything.

Posted by: jared | May 23 2023 17:06 utc | 71

Unbelievable, yet, why not? It is being reported that the Americans will train F-16 pilots to deploy B61 nuclear bombs.

According to Turkish sources, fierce negotiations are underway in NATO regarding the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. If there are no questions about the transfer itself, then the opposition of a number of countries was caused by the US initiative to transfer F-16 fighters to the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the possibility of using free-falling B61 nuclear bombs, and the Americans insist that Ukrainian pilots also be trained for their use.

[machine translation]

Posted by: too scents | May 23 2023 17:06 utc | 72

Only an utterly ignorant populace brainwashed by topgunism would think this is anything but more practice for Russia against NATO. My fellow Americans please get your head out of your asses, the world is laughing at us.

Posted by: frankly | May 23 2023 17:08 utc | 73

Would a captured F-16 be of value to the Russians; what could be learned that the Russians don't already know?

Posted by: horseguards | May 23 2023 17:10 utc | 74

the only side escalating is the West and yet we are meant to believe a desperate Putin is considering a nuclear attack. The West's whole strategy just seems to be to convince Russia of its collective insanity and produce loud enough tantrums that the Russians somehow just give up

Posted by: Clubofinfo | May 23 2023 17:12 utc | 75

My initial thought was of the military value of these raids. What do they achieve, beyond a headline propaganda?

Posted by: horseguards | May 23 2023 17:13 utc | 76

The QF-16 drone is used as target practice. It can land, and even perform evasive actions, all without a pilot.

Posted by: Wwinsti | May 23 2023 16:41 utc | 53

Great information. Not exactly the system required for Ukraine but a solid boost in the right direction ... say hello to Ukraine’s F-16 pilots:

Boeing to convert F-16 jet fighters to unmanned target drones for advanced pilot and weapons training Nov. 29, 2021 This contract involves converting retired F-16 Block 25 and Block 30 manned jet fighter aircraft to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Posted by: anon2020 | May 23 2023 17:14 utc | 77

Posted by: Sushi | May 23 2023 15:28 utc | 11

thank you so much Sushi! more please..

deep appreciation to b as well...

hard, troubling times. Reading MOA helps me understand and also helps me talk to my neighbors which is a challenge.

Posted by: migueljose | May 23 2023 17:17 utc | 78

Luckily, the CIA has lots of experience training suicide pilots.

Posted by: Figleaf23 | May 23 2023 17:20 utc | 79

A lot of people in the West seem very unhappy about the SloMo, which is a good sign.

Posted by: unimperator | May 23 2023 17:20 utc | 80

I think oldhippie @45 and leser @59 are most likely correct IF the F16 is ever introduced at all. I just read on Naked Capitalism that "An article titled 480th Fighter Squadron Rapidly Deploys to Deter Russia on the Black Sea tells me the Fetesti Air Base in Romania is just over 50 miles from the coast of the Black sea. Google maps gives 281 miles from Fetesti to Sebastopol." This is sourced from page 141 of Air & Space Force magazine online (in case the link is dead). Link.

Posted by: Quid Me Vexare | May 23 2023 17:20 utc | 81

Sushi 11

George Kennan, not John.

Posted by: SusanWelsh | May 23 2023 17:23 utc | 82

@ anon2020 | May 23 2023 17:14 utc | 76


Following your link leads to an article with a nice picture of the F-16's really small aperture radar.

For size comparison to the Russian jets ==>

Radar performance is proportional to the square of the aperture. Doubling the diameter quadruples the performance.

Posted by: too scents | May 23 2023 17:27 utc | 83

Key indicator may be how much training will be devoted to landing procedures.

Much like with the 9/11 hijackers, i don't think expecting to land all of those F-16's will be part of the plan.

Make sure those cheques don't bounce before you take off, fellas.
And by 'fellas', i mean it in the NAFO sense.

Posted by: Et Tu | May 23 2023 17:28 utc | 84

Posted by: Mike | May 23 2023 15:55 utc | 24

Maybe the summer Sirocco winds blowing into southern Europe from the Sahara will have a similar effect.

Posted by: horseguards | May 23 2023 17:31 utc | 85

Posted by: Paul Damascene | May 23 2023 16:00 utc | 31

Everyone miscalculated. Russia miscalculated the US response (it probably rightly calculated the sanctions) and willingness to make it existential for themselves. It also miscalculated the mood of the Ukrainian population and so Kharkov oblast didn’t fall the way the south did. Likely the most significant miscalculation was that the US/UK wouldn’t spike negotiations. If not for that, this is likely over with Russia getting almost everything it wanted in Ukraine … at least temporarily. And it would get some time to restore and create contrast for Ukrainians.

The US plan all along was as you describe. I think Iraq’s insurgency is maybe a better comparison along with plenty of Ukrainian terrorism. The US miscalculated I’m assuming Russia would do what the US would do: rush to Kiev to proclaim victory. That screwed up the whole bleeding ulcer of an insurgency plan and then the sanctions didn’t work as planned either.

So early on there was no need for heavy, conventional equipment. Ukraine had lots but more importantly, it would have limited value in an insurgency (not none, just limited). The first shipments were of insurgency dream weapons like ATGMs, shoulder-fired SAMs, small arms and tech. Imagine an insurgency with starlink and US intelligence communication, armed better than any insurgency ever. But since Russia didn’t take the bait everything since requires the decision about conventional weapons and tactics.

The drip drip isn’t by choice but it does show they don’t know what to do without plan A. So they concentrate on “doing something”. All they have to do is give up or escalate, so doing something is necessarily escalation. They also have a complex proxy that’s not fully controlled nor fully controllable. All in a risk environment that’s catastrophic.

The questions to be answered is who miscalculated the least and who is making the appropriate adjustments to initial miscalculations and the reality they produced. To me it looks like Russia leads by a good distance. Primarily because it didn’t fall into the initial trap, even though there are costs. Russia did not miscalculate economically and that gives it breathing space. And Russia does seem to be moving much faster on the industrial side. The only flaw in that is unknowable: if Russia has spent its stock set aside for potential war with NATO. I don’t think so because I suspect we’d see far more economy from the Russian side.

The only real problem russia hasn’t apparently started solving in earnest is manpower, or at least the application of it. It’s hard to progress offensively when you are at a manpower disadvantage and the Kremlin is clearly making minimum losses a top priority.

The US just keeps miscalculating, partly because it’s wholly reactive. The F-16s are likely because there isn’t enough modified soviet airframes capable of the long range munitions recently given. But they have to give the long range munitions because the short range munitions haven’t really affected the contours of the conflict. And every shipment makes NATO going all in harder via depletion of assets. They’re doom looping.

Posted by: Lex | May 23 2023 17:34 utc | 86

The article that b is quoting from ends with this comment:

"Unless they are planning on flying from airfields in Poland, which would put the east of Ukraine out of range (no aerial refueling capability, remember?) and risk Russian retaliation to a NATO member, or exposing their new fighters to Russian missile and drone attacks by using established airfields, there is very limited ability to utilize these effectively right now.

I got the impression that the limiting factor were suitable airfields, available parts, and skilled personnel to service the planes. Perhaps someone on MoA can suggest why Romania wasn't mentioned.

Posted by: Perimetr | May 23 2023 17:35 utc | 87

I'll repeat my speculation commented in the previous post.

The only scenario that makes sense is USAF vets with hundreds of hours in the Falcon, operating them out of Romania to attack Crimea.

Expectedly, the mainstream media will never admit they're operating out of Romania and the mainstream audience is too stupid to question as to why would a plane that took off from Lviv allegedly headed towards the Donbas crash in the black sea?

This mission profile also provides convenient cover; it's hard to recover carcasses, both plane and pilot, when they're at the bottom of the sea.

So, Russia can say that USAF vets are flying the planes or that they've been shot down, but there won't be any pics.

It's convenient for Lockheed Martin as well. I can almost imagine the NYTtimes headline, "Russia claims to have shot down 100 F-16s but couldn't find picture of a single wreckage". Well, duh they're miles down on the sea floor. But good luck getting the average NYTimes reader realize that.

Posted by: FieryButMostPeaceful | May 23 2023 17:36 utc | 88

One nitpick, according to this source, the F16's combat range is 500 miles (860 kilometers) which would allow Ukraine to use air fields at least somewhat west of Kiev.

Posted by: Christian Chuba | May 23 2023 15:37 utc | 14

They can also use external drop tanks to extend the range, but these take up space otherwise occupied by weapons.

Posted by: First Time Poster | May 23 2023 17:37 utc | 89

Sushi @ 11
"What happens when a clergymen meets a psychopath"
That's a sereous question.

I'll take it as such.

But first you need to tell me....
Dose the clergy man KNOW he's meeting a psychopath.

That's deep on its own.
Think about it.

Posted by: Mark2 | May 23 2023 17:38 utc | 90

Paul Damascene | May 23 2023 16:00 utc | 31--

As I've posited using UkiNazi, EU and NATO aims, the goal is to kill Russians and related Slavs in a manner similar to the Star Trek Borg--Assimilate or be destroyed as proven by behavior against Serbia since 1991. Poland needs to beware as they too are Slavs. Since before WW2's end, elements within the Outlaw US Empire adopted Hitler's Plan Ost as their own but were kept from implementing it until the ascension of Reagan/Bush, which allowed the CIA to finally run the Executive, a fact that continues today. That's part of Sushi's Truth. Since the Wolfowitz Doctrine and the subsequent announced policy goal of attaining Full Spectrum Domination of the planet and its people, what we've seen is a very disjointed attempt to attain that policy goal. Today, that attempt is clearly failing. But there's no quit in the fanatics running the show. The answer to Sushi's question is the clergyman has weapons in his arsenal capable of defeating those in the psychopath's, while the psychopath essentially has none despite the decades of bluster and destruction visited on helpless nations. Recall at the outset I stated the Outlaw US Empire has no weapons capable of defeating Russia, and I still stand by that and have yet to encounter anyone proving it wrong.

So, how to explain Outlaw US Empire behavior not just in Ukraine but globally? The attack being waged on Dollar Hegemony has no defense as the Empire is incapable of the power projection it once had prior to Obama--the Illegal Iraq War and technological developments combined to alter the equation: The Age of the Missile now rules. Star Wars came into reality but not by the Empire but by Russia. It has bullets that can hit other bullets whereas NATO doesn't. The R-37 and R-37M air-to-air missiles outrange all NATO types and Russia boasts stronger radars that complement those missiles. There's a two-part video on the Kinzhal that's not just about that weapon I highly suggest watching (they have English subtitles), Part One and Part Two, the most fascinating for me was Russia's research bureau that copies all NATO weapons that's existed since Soviet times. What differs between Russia and its Nazi enemies is Russia doesn't want to destroy the world to destroy the Nazis, although it could. As Putin, Lavrov, Patrushev, Medvedev, and the rest of Russia's Team have said, no one actually wins if nuclear weapons are unleashed because of the environmental damage inflicted on the planet--even if Russia wasn't touched, North America and Europe would be toasted, and Russia's in Europe. Fallout is everyone's enemy. So, Russia's approach is to use the siege as it knows it's not alone in the struggle versus the Nazis; China's on its side too and has openly stated the hegemon will be defeated. The RoW shares that goal and do many people captured within the Empire.

It's an odd sort of Siege. Whose battlements are being assaulted? A look at the Big Picture shows Russia being assaulted by NATO as the latter moved its "siege engines" ever closer to Russia's borders, reached them and refused to remove them, while actively conducting Genocide against Russians living within historical Russian Donbass, that's now expanded to include all Ukraine and much of Europe. NATO is simply NAZI and is run by the Top Nazi the Outlaw US Empire. The Nazis attack Russia's battlements and are slayed in the thousands yet the Nazis are undeterred as most of the slain are Russia's fellow ethnic Slavs. Take careful note that no other ethnicity is being committed to the Siege aside from the usual glory seekers. Wikipedia:

"Present-day Slavs are classified into East Slavs (chiefly Belarusians, Russians, Rusyns, and Ukrainians), West Slavs (chiefly Czechs, Kashubians, Poles, Slovaks and Sorbs) and South Slavs (chiefly Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes)."

Also note which nation is promoted as the next battleground: Poland, not Romania which isn't Slavic. Also note that prior to WW1, Kaiser Wilhelm saw the coming war as a Racial battle for European supremacy between the Teutons and the Slavs, a theme adopted by Hitler and his fellow Nazis within Europe and North America. Although the concept of Race is no longer valid, the notion remains very strong within certain segments of the Western World and is perpetuated via Divide and Rule politics. That notion allows North American Nazis to include the myth of Manifest Destiny in their Narrative despite its falsity (Manifest Destiny is part of the rationale within Full Spectrum Dominance Policy).

So, to win the Siege, Russia and its allies must cause the collapse of the Hegemon without blowing up the world, and thus the Siege. Dollar Hegemony and Neoliberalism are its twin Achilles Heels. War is being waged on Great Russian Lands, but it will be won with the collapse of the Nazi economy and its ability to wage war.

Posted by: karlof1 | May 23 2023 17:39 utc | 91


The Kremlin is considering an export ban on gas to prevent domestic fuel shortages and ease domestic gas price that have been rising since April, Reuters reports. Russian finance ministry plans to halve subsidies to oil refiners to replenish state coffers is expected to add to the Russian gas price crunch.

Posted by: sln2002 | May 23 2023 17:43 utc | 92

(why is no one surprised the US didn't give a second thought this runway thing? bunch of maroons.)
Posted by: Paul Greenwood | May 23 2023 16:37 utc | 47
"Quite why countries want to turn themselves into another Ukraine because the original has burned out eludes me."

cuz they want to be like Israel? and "they" is not "the countries." Ukrainians want and have wanted peace, as folks have been reminding us lately.

so why are the ruling classes hitching their wagon to a star and going West? cuz they don't have any alternative except to externalize the conflict of the "house divided against itself" that is each of these nations?

3 nations (and more) got together in Hiroshima to bray about Chinese aggression. Japan, the US and the UK. How many millions of Chinese have these 3 countries killed, but in the slander machine that is the West, all we hear is Mao Mao Mao Mao, like a goddam cat commercial?

Germany is rearming itself because of Russian aggression? that's why there is now one Germany and NATO on Russia's borders b/c of *Russian* aggression? and the West is rearming Japan and further militarizing Taiwan, AU, NZ, etc., etc., because of *Chinese* aggression?

uh huh. Brecht's Nazi capitalist bitch is still in fascist heat.

as long as the Western state can continue to exploit the 1st enemy, i.e., their own peoples, war with Russia and whoever can go on for only God knows how long. Westerners need to stop expecting the Russian military to stop their governments' rampage for them.

Puccini was warning the West what these Pinkertons were up to in Japan: stealing and sacrificing their children. fucking nazis. nothing changes. the Japanese ruling class is quite happy to participate in the ceremony of blood.

Posted by: rjb1.5 | May 23 2023 17:44 utc | 93

Posted by: Sushi | May 23 2023 15:28 utc | 11

Thank you.

Posted by: Paco | May 23 2023 17:45 utc | 94

Hoarsewhisperer | May 23 2023 16:32 utc | 43

corollary to peter principle.

once every manager has reached their level of incompetence, the rest of the chain is incompetent!

usa aerospace enjoyed the last competent leader in the 1960's: kelly johnson!

Posted by: paddy | May 23 2023 16:53 utc | 63

And the Irony missed by Peter is those that initiate the promotions on Merit, themselves got elevated by the Peter Principle.
Just think of the mechanism that got Biden elected. It makes the Peter Principle look genius.

Posted by: kupkee | May 23 2023 17:48 utc | 95

As a Jet Mechanic with 40+ Years of experience, I can say from personal experience that the issue of FOD and all the rest of the 'issues' that come with operating at sub-optimal "airports" are more difficult than the Pentagram 'planners' are capable of understanding. I got a Laugh from the Writer quoted above about a "FOD Walkdown, in the Dark, on 10,000 Feet of Highway..."
I strongly suspect that any use of NATO Planes will simply come from NATO Airfields, with the presumption (Hope) that Russia won't Retaliate against them, 'cuz "Article 5". Problem with that (not a) Strategy is that using any NATO Base to Attack Russia (the Donbass Oblasts ARE legally Russia) is that it would be the kind of Overt Act of War that the Russian Congress won't be able to 'Defer to the President under the current AUMF resolution that allows the "SMO". It would likely result in the Senate and Duma passing a Decleartion of War over (any, slight,) objections by the Stavka... i.e., Tsar Vladimir gets handed a D.O.W. by the Speaker of the Duma, who will also have the Articles of Impeachment in his pocket, if the Tsar doesn't pick up the Red Courtesy Phone on his Desk...

Posted by: Gryphon | May 23 2023 17:48 utc | 96

#3 not panic...Russians killed all 70 attackers and all their military equipment.....

Posted by: sejmon | May 23 2023 17:49 utc | 97

If NATO says they are going to issue weapon XYZ to Ukraine, you can be sure that it is already delivered, at least partly.

Posted by: Verdant | May 23 2023 17:49 utc | 98

Today's SitRep Collection is posted

Posted by: Will | May 23 2023 17:56 utc | 99

Really bored? I guess you don’t pay too much attention to the daily blood bath that is the USA! Daily slaughter is common and the government doesn’t care. Massive homelessness they don’t care. No healthcare, no mental health care, they don’t care. The shit that runs this hell hole cares about slaughtering people with their poorly made toys, civilians are targeted always. Standard practice from the very start from the the ships landing on American soil. Russia moves slow to save lives we carpet bomb.

Posted by: Susan | May 23 2023 17:56 utc | 100

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