Ex-Pentagon Analyst: In Ukraine, F-16s Useful as 'Propaganda' But Not as Weapons
The latest round of Western pledges of support for Ukraine includes a variety of armored vehicles and tanks, but also increased talk of sending Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon multirole fighter aircraft to be used by Kiev.
Among its demands for more Western equipment, the government in Kiev has asked for F-16 Falcon fighter jets - a fourth-generation multirole aircraft in use with multiple US allied air forces for decades. Heated debate over the issue has raged in the Dutch legislature, although Amsterdam has so far rejected such a transfer.
On Thursday, plane maker Lockheed Martin said the company was preparing to "backfill" any donations to Ukraine by US allies with new F-16s, akin to how US defense contractors have pledged to do with other equipment given by NATO allies to Ukraine.
In all, the US has pledged roughly $100 billion to Kiev, including military hardware, support, and other types of non-military goods and financing.
However, a former Pentagon expert has said that in Ukraine's hands, the F-16 is more useful for domestic propaganda than attempting to turn the tide of the conflict.
Retired Lt. Col. Karen Kwiatkowski, a former analyst for the US Department of Defense, told Sputnik on Friday that the only way an F-16 could be useful in Ukraine is a method that carries a risk of dramatically escalating the conflict.
“I think we need to understand better what the politicians are trying to do in Ukraine, and why. Clearly the West cares nothing for the Ukrainian people. Success in modern war no longer hinges on the flying ability of a handsome fighter pilot - fighter squadrons have become a small and relatively vulnerable part of a land battle, best used for recon or launching standoff missiles - and if used that way in this NATO-Russia competition would mean that the war has gone hot, and will go nuclear,” she said.
“If this is to be a war against Russia, the Western democracies need to be able to whip their populations, many of which oppose this war, and certainly oppose it on their own backyards. The ubiquitous blue and yellow flags on every social media page have faded away now, and Americans and Europeans face new and continued economic hardship throughout 2023. The US government faces another threat of default in weeks, and no western country is in a financial position for an expanded and extended war.“
“Thus, an F-16 is a well-recognized and easily expendable icon of western ‘freedom’ in the media, a symbol of US pride,” Kwiatkowski said.
“Fighter aircraft as heroic saviors have been heavily indoctrinated into the US imagination for many decades. If we can ‘lose’ one of these at the hands of the Russian army, or air force, or even if a false flag can be generated to make this appear to be the case, Western politicians may be able to get their war - one that will massively eliminate liberties at home, and wipe out old government debt in transition to a ‘war footing’ - before they be replaced by wiser and more patriot leaders,” she explained.
“F-16s to Ukraine function only as domestic propaganda for more war, and they would create more opportunity for domestic rage on both sides, and they reduce the ability to get to real agreement and settling of the Ukrainian border in a war that serves the actual people who still live there. Russia does not fear the combat potential, but they are being forced to destroy more and more western equipment donated to Ukraine, which they will continue to do, and this does in fact serve the purpose of London and Moscow, and Warsaw as well.”