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"Amazing Ukrainian modesty": why Kiev will not receive the weapons requested from the United States

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Image source: Lee Jin-man/AP

Reuters: Kiev has asked the United States for missile defense systems, Apache helicopters and Hornet fighters

Ukraine is asking the United States for fighter jets, helicopters and missile defense systems. This is reported by Reuters. The details of the next applications of the military-political leadership in Kiev were dealt with by the military observer of the newspaper.En" Mikhail Khodarenok.

According to Reuters, among the weapons, military and special equipment requested by Kiev are F/A-18 Hornet fighters (carrier-based fighter-bomber and attack aircraft, can be based at land airfields), C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft, Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk multipurpose helicopters and mobile ground-based anti-missile systems for high-altitude interception of medium-range THAAD missiles.

The list is certainly impressive. If we imagine that all these weapons will someday be received by Ukraine, then this means the withdrawal of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to a completely different technological level and a sharp increase in the combat capability and combat readiness of the Ukrainian army.

What is Kiev asking for?

Let's start with THAAD anti-missile systems. As you know, this system allows you to defeat ballistic targets at ranges up to 200 km and at altitudes of 150-200 km. Even if the United States decides to supply the THAAD missile defense system to Ukraine, then, most likely, the Pentagon will limit itself to transferring one, maximum two batteries of this type of anti-missile complex to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Apparently, they will be deployed to cover the capital of Ukraine - the city of Kiev.

In this regard, the following questions arise. Not so long ago, several batteries of the Patriot MIM-104 anti-aircraft missile system were transferred to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. But if Kiev asks in addition to this to additionally supply the THAAD missile defense system, then, therefore, Patriot did not show the required effectiveness during the repulse of hypersonic and ballistic targets (such as the Kinzhal hypersonic aviation missile system and the Iskander tactical missile system). And there is a need to strengthen the capabilities of the grouping of air defense/missile defense systems deployed on the cover of Kiev to combat precisely such goals. There is no other conclusion in this situation.

Now about Kiev's request to supply carrier-based fighter-bombers and attack aircraft F/A-18 Hornet. This issue has already been raised before. In June 2023, Australia, the United States and Ukraine discussed the transfer of 41 decommissioned F/A-18 Hornet aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, the parties did not reach any specific agreements at that time.

Today, the expediency of such a request from the Ukrainian side still raises some doubts. The Air Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine are currently engaged in retraining Ukrainian pilots for multifunctional F-16 fighters. The process is still far from completion (it is not even in the final stages), the APU has not yet received a single fighter, and suddenly a new request from Kiev is to supply another type of aircraft.

And this will cause at least additional difficulties in the training of pilots, ground technicians, and in the operation of the F/A-18 Hornet.

As for the hypothetical supplies of C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, it should be noted that these machines are among the best in their classes. For example, the end of sales of the reliable and unpretentious C-130 Hercules is still not in sight. And this is despite the fact that the development of the aircraft started in 1955. The car turned out to be so successful that it has been mass-produced for almost 70 years. The C-17 Globemaster also has very high tactical and technical characteristics.

The question is that the APU requires far more than one aircraft of these types. To meet the needs of the Ukrainian army, at least two military transport aviation regiments, both C-130 and C-17, are needed. That is, 60 Hercules and 60 Globemaster aircraft. Even if such a decision is ever made, it will take many years to deliver so many machines.

Meanwhile, in the context of the armed conflict in Ukraine, there is not a single airfield where military transport aircraft were at least relatively safe. All runways, taxiways and parking lots in the country are under the possible influence of high-precision weapons of the Russian Aerospace Forces and Navy. It is almost impossible to hide planes of such geometric dimensions.

That is, the C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster transferred to the APU can be destroyed relatively easily.

Kiev's request for the supply of Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk multipurpose helicopters is exclusively within the bounds of common sense. Currently, there is a catastrophic shortage of vehicles of this type in the Ukrainian army.

But again, the question is not the fact of possible deliveries, but the quantity of equipment transferred. The AFU requires several separate combat helicopter regiments (on AH-64 Apache helicopters) and several separate transport and combat helicopter regiments (on UH-60 helicopters). And this is only at a minimum. In general, in this case we are talking about the supply of many, many dozens of rotorcraft. Otherwise, they will not play any significant role in the armed struggle.

And who will pay?

And here the main questions arise - and who will pay for all this? After all, the estimated cost of the weapons and military equipment requested by Kiev is in the range of hundreds of billions of dollars.

For comparison, the cost of the latest package of military assistance to Ukraine is only $175 million, and the bill on the allocation of multibillion-dollar assistance to Ukraine at this stage has not passed a procedural vote in the U.S. Senate.

Not so long ago, the commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valery Zaluzhny, asked US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin for 17 million shells and $350-400 billion for the "de-occupation of Ukraine." There is reason to believe that this amount will be just enough for the fighter jets, helicopters and missile defense systems requested by Ukraine.

In general, in such a case, one can only wonder at Ukrainian modesty.

Against this background, the leadership in Kiev can only ask the following questions - and for what reasons are the 5th generation F-35 fighters and the latest B-21 Raider strategic bombers not included in the lists of requested weapons? 2000 M1 Abrams tanks? 2500 M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles? 1,500 M109A6 Paladin self-propelled artillery units?

To summarize, let's put it this way: the requested weapons and military equipment are really extremely necessary for the Armed Forces of Ukraine to conduct successful military operations, especially of an offensive nature. But the reality of the implementation of this "Zelensky list", even in the foreseeable future, raises great doubts.

The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.

Biography of the author:

Mikhail Mikhailovich Khodarenok is a military columnist for Gazeta.Ru", retired colonel.

He graduated from the Minsk Higher Engineering Anti-Aircraft Missile School (1976), the Military Air Defense Command Academy (1986).

Commander of the S-75 anti-aircraft missile division (1980-1983).

Deputy commander of the anti-aircraft missile regiment (1986-1988).

Senior Officer of the General Staff of the Air Defense Forces (1988-1992).

Officer of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff (1992-2000).

Graduated from the Military Academy of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces (1998).

Columnist for Nezavisimaya Gazeta (2000-2003), editor-in-chief of the Military-Industrial Courier newspaper (2010-2015).


Mikhail Khodarenok

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