- Russian fighter jets are ambushing Ukrainians in sneak attacks, an official told The Telegraph.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the White House to send F-16 jets to fight back.
- The Biden administration has so far refused to send F-16 fighters and MQ-9 drones to Ukraine.
Russian fighter jets are tricking Ukrainian pilots into sneaky “swarming” ambush attacks, according to a Ukrainian air force major, highlighting why the besieged country’s president has continued his calls for more advanced air power aid from the United States.
“The Russians change tactics all the time, so the war isn’t stable,” Major Vadym “Karaya” Voroshylov told The Telegraph in an interview. “They make traps. They will send up a Russian jet alone, tricking the Ukrainian pilot into thinking there is only one jet. Then, two or three more will appear either side of it, effectively swarming the Ukrainian aircraft.”
Voroshylov, an ace pilot for the country’s air force, has made headlines before after being declared a Hero of Ukraine after he shot down two missiles and five drones during an attack on the city of Vinnytsia and a photo of his bloodied face after he ejected from his jet went viral.
“Right now, we can only hold the enemy but with F-16s we could control the airfield, as well as the seas and the ground to protect infantry,” Voroshylov told The Telegraph. “We need more modern aircrafts to be better than the enemy.”
The decorated pilot’s calls for F-16 jets echo increasingly urgent requests from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to the White House for improved military equipment such as F-16 fighters and MQ-9 drones to fight back against the Russian invasion.
“The Ukrainians have at times asked us for as many as 128 fourth-generation aircraft, a mix of F-15s, F-18s, and F-16s,” Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told lawmakers on February 28. Kahl added that the subject was discussed by President Joe Biden and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during Biden’s visit to Kyiv on February 20.
However, despite the discussion, defense officials for the White House have so far refused to include F-16s in the nearly $100 billion in military and humanitarian aid packages that have been sent to Ukraine so far.
“That won’t help them in this current fight,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a March 28 hearing. “And will they have a capability at some point down the road? We all believe that they will, and what that looks like, it could look like F-16s, it could look like some other fourth-generation aircraft.”
Representatives for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government of the Russian Federation, and the United States’ Department of Defense did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.