“Relying on our mental abilities to defeat the Russians is not enough to fight with our current fighters,” complains the young Ukrainian pilot, who identified himself as “Joss”, about the huge difference between the two sides’ skills in fighting in sky.
Gus, 29, is one of the pilots who helped Ukraine achieve the biggest surprise in the war, as they have so far kept airspace over his country in conflict, despite the most advanced, technical and numerous Russian aircraft. , according to the Washington Post.
Analysts have documented the loss of 20 fighters and 30 helicopters by the Russian Air Force, destroyed or damaged in Ukraine, but Goss and other pilots say the old fighters they are fighting with are not enough.
“We’re ready to be killed, we do not want to, of course, but we want to kill the Russians and bring down their bombers who are killing our cities and families,” Goss says.
“Fighting in the sky does not look right when faced with a more modern Russian aircraft,” he explains. He often has to completely avoid his opponent to survive.
Sometimes he and his fellow pilots manage to trick the Russians into entering an area where the Ukrainians have an air defense system on alert.
As Ukrainian forces appeared to be competing with the invaders on the ground, prompting Russia to withdraw from some areas and change its plans, Russia continued to inflict heavy losses on Ukraine from the skies, “Ukrainian pilots being” mere targets ” “Enemies flying much more advanced aircraft,” according to Jos.
“We have losses almost every day in our air force,” Guss admits. “You will not see this on TV because it is all classified, at the moment, but in reality we have a lot of losses. That is why we have to be technically. On the same level as the Russians.”
Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that Russia has air sovereignty over Ukraine and called on the United States and NATO to impose a no-fly zone over the country, but a move that military alliance leaders have ruled out, citing fears that this could lead to the outbreak of a world war with Moscow.
Zelensky is now pushing his country to buy more advanced air defense systems and jet aircraft to counter the Russian air force.
But Goss and others say the weapons discussed to be offered to Ukraine, particularly Russian-made MiG-29 fighters and U.S. Stiger anti-aircraft missiles, will not help the Kiev air force turn the scales in its favor.
Poland last month offered to send a MiG-29 number to Ukraine via a US air base in Germany, as Ukrainian pilots know how to deal with them and have already been trained for them.
In return, Poland asked the United States to send replacement aircraft with much newer F-16s, a plan that Washington rejected.
And on Monday, Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heeger said his country would consider providing MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine if it were possible to arrange an alternative defense for its airspace.
But for Ukrainian pilots, more MiG-29s is not the solution, and Joss said “getting more obsolete MiGs will not improve Ukraine’s position in the sky,” noting that the planes Poland offered to transfer are older than Poland has offered. Ukraine.
Although retired U.S. Air Force General Herbert Carlisle believes the Ukrainians are right and that they must have advanced equipment in order to be able to cope with Russian forces, he shows how difficult it is. for pilots to train for a “completely different flight system,” according to the Washington Post.
“If they get the F-16, it will not be just the pilots who will have to learn a flight system that is ‘completely different’ from the Soviet-style aircraft, as ground personnel will also have to be trained on how to “to maintain the aircraft and load it with compatible ammunition,” he said.
But Jos sees teaching and training as something big.
Another Ukrainian pilot, Nomad, who is in the United States as part of a training program, says it will likely take about two weeks to learn the nuances of the F-16.
The pilots said that many of their colleagues already speak English and have participated in joint exercises with the US Air Force, so they are familiar with the terminology of these aircraft systems.
Ukrainian pilots also criticized the effectiveness of Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, which were part of US aid packages.
Nomad said it was “almost impossible” to hit a Russian fast-moving missile plane.
Retired U.S. General Carlisle agreed with him, noting that these missiles were not designed to shoot down fighters, but were designed to be used against slow-moving helicopters and other aircraft.
Joss points out that if Western countries are reluctant to provide Ukraine with modern aircraft with which their pilots have not been trained, they should at least consider sending more advanced air defense systems, noting that learning with them is too much. easier.
On Wednesday, US President Joe Biden announced $ 800 million in new military aid, including heavy equipment, to Ukraine, according to a White House statement.
During a telephone conversation Wednesday with Ukrainian counterpart Zelensky, Biden said military aid includes armored vehicles, artillery and helicopters.
This new aid package will include “highly effective equipment we have delivered” to Ukraine, Biden said, as well as “new capabilities”, including, in particular, “artillery systems” and “armored vehicles”.
The purpose of this new aid is to support Ukraine in the face of widespread Russian aggression in the east of the country, as confirmed by Washington.
The United States has provided most of the international military assistance that Kiev has received since the fall.
The total value of this military aid before Wednesday’s announcement was $ 2.4 billion.