F/A-18 Versus F-16
In an ideal world, the West would have sent to Ukraine at least 200 Swedish Gripen fighter jets, along with requisite armaments, not later than June 2022. This would have had a major impact on the Russian invasion and today thousands of Ukrainians would still be alive. Unfortunately, Western “leaders” and far too many flabby senior military officers (most notably that total disgrace to his uniform, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and all-round dullard General Mark A Milley) pretended that Ukraine “didn’t need” fighter jets or “wasn’t ready” to operate them.
Fast-forward to today and we believe that a trickle of F-16s may perhaps be delivered to Ukraine by the end of the year, and if not then probably at some point in 2024. As for their armaments and equipment, the probability is that these elements will be kept as basic as possible so as to avoid upsetting the Russians. As always, our support is far too late and there will be far too few to make a major difference. But the larger question is: should we actually be sending a totally different aircraft?
Critics of the F-16 make some valid points. It’s a delicate aircraft that requires lots of maintenance, has a myriad of expensive and complicated spare parts, and requires pristine runways in order to take off and land. In other words, it is not ideally suited for a battlespace in which all these things are problematic at best. As noted above, the Swedish Gripen is a far better aircraft: it is cheaper, far more robust, requires less maintenance and is infinitely easier to maintain, and can operate from rough-and-ready airstrips. Unfortunately there are so few Gripens in existence that Ukraine would never get more than a handful even if Western “leaders” one day discovered the concept of having a spinal column.
But seemingly unnoticed by the babbling journalists from whom most people unfortunately get their “information,” there is another option: the F/A-18 Hornet (not the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, which is a later version and one that the USA would never be persuaded to hand over even if Biden was not so endlessly terrified of upsetting Putin). For those who are unfamiliar with this aircraft, it began its development life around the same time as the F-14 and was rejected by the US…