Defense Minister Shoigu said that Russian air defense only needed 20 days to take down all the F-16 fighters that the West pledged to transfer to Ukraine.
“Over the past month, air defense units intercepted more than 1,400 weapons and air attack vehicles of the Ukrainian armed forces, including 37 aircraft and 6 US-made ATACMS tactical missiles,” Minister Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at a meeting on November 1.
According to Mr. Shoigu, 37 Ukrainian fighter jets were downed, “nearly twice the number of fighter jets pledged to be transferred to Ukraine”. “With the current combat rate, Russian air defense units will neutralize all of these Western fighters in 20 days,” Minister Shoigu announced.
Mr. Shoigu made his comments in the context of a number of countries starting to train F-16 pilots for Ukraine after many months of the country calling for aid for modern US-made fighters.
Denmark has committed to delivering 19 F-16 fighters to Ukraine, the first batch of 6 will be delivered this year, the next 8 in 2024 and 5 in 2025. Many countries also promised to aid F-16. -16 for Ukraine, but no transfer schedule has been stated.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the F-16 fighter “will strengthen Ukraine’s air defense capabilities”, supporting them in the counterattack campaign to repel Russian forces.
However, many US officials believe that the F-16 will be of little use to Ukraine in a modern counter-offensive campaign and will not change the war situation due to the challenge from the air defense complexes that Russia has deployed.
During the meeting on November 1, Minister Shoigu commented that “Ukraine is losing despite NATO providing new weapons.” “Ukraine’s armed forces continue unsuccessful attacks against Russian positions in the direction of Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Kherson,” he said.
Ukraine launched a large-scale counterattack campaign in early June, repeatedly declaring partial success and regaining control of some residential areas. However, Ukrainian officials admitted that the campaign did not go according to plan.