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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Ukraine’s newest fighter jet compared to the US F-16 “Fighting Falcon”

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday that his country could provide MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine “within the next four to six weeks,” the same day a bipartisan group of US senators sent a letter to US defense secretaries Lloyd Austin urging him to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

The addition of fighter jets would give a boost to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who for months has publicly appealed to his Western allies to equip his military with planes to support Ukraine’s war against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Although the US has provided Ukraine with powerful weapons such as the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and Javelin missiles, as well as promised M1 Abrams tanks, President Joe Biden has so far resisted authorizing shipments of F-16s .

For a comparison between MiG-29 and F-16 “Fighting Falcons”, Guy McCardle, Editor-in-Chief of Report of the special forces (SOFREP), narrates news week that while MiG-29s are “impressive” aircraft, there are some key differences between the jets.

The MiG-29, which took its name from its developer, the Russian design bureau Mikoyan, was first introduced in the 1970s before entering service with the Soviet Union in 1983.

The MiG-29, also known as the “Fulcrum”, belongs to the fourth generation fighter jet class, which first entered service in the 1970s and 1980s and is still in service today. The F-16 is also a fourth-generation fighter that entered service in 1979. Developed by General Dynamics for the US Air Force, the Fighting Falcon is currently in service with militaries in more than two dozen nations.

“American pilots will cite the MiG-29 Fulcrum’s low-speed maneuverability and its helmet-mounted vision system as two of the most impressive aspects of the aircraft,” McCardle said.

He added that while the MiG-29 had “superior nose-pointing capabilities” at speeds under 200 knots, the F-16s “excelled” in such capabilities at speeds over 200 knots.

“The turn rate on the F-16 is significantly better,” he said.

McCardle, who is also a 16-year US Army veteran, said Americans who have flown Fulcums have reported that “their visibility isn’t anywhere near as good as an F-16.”

“They claim that F-16 pilots ‘sit high in the cockpit.’ Fulcrum pilots can’t see directly behind them when they turn their head in the cockpit. This is an obvious disadvantage when spotting the enemy,” he said “A MiG-29 must also jettison its centerline fuel tank to go supersonic. This severely limits their range and the amount of time they can fly missions (an attack from a defensive position) at high speed.”

Despite any advantages Fighting Falcons may have over Fulcrums, many Ukrainians took to social media to praise the news from Poland.

‚ÄúPoland is ready to hand over MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Our military could immediately use them in combat operations,” Ukrainian Parliament Member Kira Rudik tweeted on Wednesday.

news week emailed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine for comment.

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