It has been reported that the Western Allies will likely not deploy F-16 fighter jets one at a time, but will send an entire Squadron at once. The list of countries that will join the "coalition" includes Great Britain, the USA, the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark.
The main roles of each coalition member are pretty clear from this list. In particular, the transfer of aircraft from Great Britain is unlikely as the Royal Air Force simply does not have F-16s. In turn, the US has already officially announced that it will not hand over the aircraft. At the same time, London is at least responsible for the initial training of pilots, and without the United States, the re-export of F-16s would be impossible.
The training of Ukrainian pilots and technicians in the navigation and maintenance of F-16 multi-role fighters will take place in several waves. The short list of the first group of pilots to go for training abroad has already been prepared, but it is impossible to send them all together. "Otherwise, there would be no one left to protect Ukrainian skies," said Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ikhnat.
"Priority is given to young pilots with good knowledge of English," he noted. Along with pilots, engineers and combat management officers (closer to a USAF Director of Air Combat or a UK RAF Air Weapons Controller) will also be trained. "The first wave of pilots may consist of a few dozen pilots," Ikhnat reported.
This is quite a significant number if up to 20 pilots will be trained on the Western aircraft in the first wave alone. For reference, the closest future prospect for Ukraine to acquire F-16s is from the Netherlands, the country has 12 spare aircraft that it could possibly donate. Another near-term prospect is for Ukraine to acquire 24–36 additional aircraft from Denmark and the Netherlands once those countries replace the F-16s in service with newer F-35s.
If there are multiple waves of at least twenty Ukrainian pilots each, it means that the result would be far more pilots than available aircraft. Sure, there's still the personnel reserve explanation, because one person can't fly 24/7 all the time.
On the other hand, there is also a possibility that Ukraine expects to acquire even more aircraft from the "fighter coalition".
Russian air defense forces intercepted all targets, and Ukrainian attempts to strike targets in Crimea failed.
According to Crimean leader Sergei Aksenov, Russian air defense forces shot down five Ukrainian UAVs. Four other drones were intercepted by electronic warfare. In total, nine UAVs targeted the peninsula.
According to local reports, two Mugin-5 UAVs were destroyed near Kumovo. Another exploded in the air near Stereguschee and another was intercepted near Krasnaya Polyana in the northwestern part of the peninsula. Three more drones were reportedly shot down by the Pantsir-S1 system near Dzhankoy in northern Crimea. Two more were downed by electronic warfare in the Feodosiya region in the eastern part of the peninsula.
The UAVs were likely launched by Ukrainian forces from Shkolny Airport in Ukraine's Odesa region. Meanwhile, an American Boeing P-8 Poseidon anti-submarine aircraft was operating off the coast of Romania.
Analysts at the American Institute for the Study of War (ISW) suggest that the Ukrainian military may be on the verge of a major counterattack. Based on the new data and comments from Ukrainian officials, the researchers concluded that the Ukrainian authorities have entered a "silent mode," which, in their opinion, may indicate that significant hostilities are coming.
A key indication of the possibility of a counterattack is the statement of Ukraine's deputy defense minister, Anna Mayar, who recently told reporters that "military plans love silence."
It is also reported that Ukraine has completed the formation and arming of all nine Assault Guard brigades. This, apparently, is an additional sign of preparation for a possible counterattack.
Ukrainian President Zelensky recently confirmed that the country's armed forces are fully prepared for counterattacks. He stressed that, despite the need for additional weapons, the Ukrainian army will not wait for their supply.
However, Zelensky expressed concerns about the lack of air cover. He noted that the country is currently facing serious problems with aviation, and because of this, the Armed Forces of Ukraine cannot fully protect their forces and the civilian population.