Zelensky: Western warplanes will help Ukraine achieve air superiority

NATO aircraft are capable of "Significantly shifting the power balance," said Ukrainian government charity United24.

 An F-16 fighter jet. (photo credit: LOCKHEED MARTIN)
An F-16 fighter jet.
(photo credit: LOCKHEED MARTIN)

Western warplanes would "help Ukraine achieve superiority over the enemy in the skies", Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Facebook on Tuesday, sharing a video by the United24 government-run charity to support the country's war effort.

"The Air Forces of the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] are heroically fighting against the enemy which is significantly superior," said Zelensky. "They are doing so using obsolete equipment inferior to the newer aerial vehicles of the occupiers. They’ve already lost at least 500 helicopters and aircraft, yet these victories come at a high cost."

NATO aircraft are capable of "Significantly shifting the power balance," the United24 video claimed.

The video featured interviews with people who were ostensibly Ukrainian pilots, extolling the benefits that Western warplanes would have for the air campaign.

"As for equipping the Ukrainian air force with Western airplanes I can only say one thing — we require them right now," said one pilot.

A Russian MIG 29 flies at the Dubai Air show, November 20, 2005. (credit: REUTERS)A Russian MIG 29 flies at the Dubai Air show, November 20, 2005. (credit: REUTERS)

"If we were given American jets, they could completely replace the Soviet models as newer and universal airplanes, then our enemy would understand why waging war on us was a bad idea," said another pilot in the program. 

United24 also emphasized the need for Western anti-air systems, and pointed to how successful Ukraine had already been at utilizing the air force equipment that they had been supplied with so far.

"Ukrainians are now using the American anti-radar AGM-88 HARM missiles with the Soviet Migs, something that no one else has done before."

A former Soviet bloc state, the bulk of Ukraine's warplane fleet is made up of Soviet-made aircraft. Ukrainian pilots are also trained and familiar with Soviet equipment.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry specified the jets it was seeking, stating on Monday that "When provided with F-16s, our Air Force under [Lieutenant General Mykola] Oleshchuk command will be able to do even more!"

"The Air Forces of the AFU [Armed Forces of Ukraine] are heroically fighting against the enemy which is significantly superior."

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky

Previous requests for Western warplanes

The Ukrainian military previously requested the American-made General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and other Western aircraft in August in a series of social media posts celebrating Ukraine's Aviation Day. 

"It's time we gave our Ukrainian top guns the tools to finish the job. Ukraine needs F-16s now," said the Defense Ministry, posting a video parodying the fighter pilot film Top Gun. 

In another post, Ukraine called for The Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Mirage 2000 and Saab JAS 39 Gripen. All of these are advanced multi-role or air superiority fighters, and the F-22 and F-35 are stealth fighters.

Earlier in the Russia-Ukraine War, President Volodymyr Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials put out multiple pleas to Western states asking for warplanes to counter the Russian Air Force. However, the arming of Ukraine with Western aircraft has been seen as too provocative for the US.

There have been multiple proposals by European countries to resupply Ukraine with Soviet-made warplanes in exchange for American jets. 

As Russia has stepped up missile and drone bombardments of Ukraine, Western nations have begun to provide Zelensky with advanced air defense systems.