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Reznikov: Ukraine counting on delivery of fighter jets, one model to dominate
Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov has said that Ukraine expects to receive around two to three models of Western-built fighter jets from NATO partners, one of which will be delivered in larger numbers for more efficient operation and maintenance.
Though no country has yet promised to provide jets to Ukraine, Reznikov is "certain" that the decision to deliver them would come eventually, he said in a March 3 interview to German newspaper Bild.
"I think it will be done through a kind of coalition again, we will have a main model as well as other types," the minister said.
The prediction would mirror the pattern in which Western partners have pledged main battle tanks to Ukraine, with the German-built Leopard 2 model being pledged in much larger numbers than British and American tanks.
"In the tank coalition, the main animal in the Leopard zoo is from Germany, but we also have Challenger, Abrams, light tanks from France," Reznikov added. "But the main battle tank is the Leopard."
Berlin, which has pledged dozens of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, has firmly rejected any possibility of doing the same with fighter jets.
“The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Jan. 29.
Other countries have shown more openness to the idea. On Feb. 10, Ukraine officially requested F-16 multirole fighter jets from the Netherlands, which had earlier said that the country was willing to look into the feasibility of such a delivery.
During President Zelensky's Feb. 8 visit to London, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to military aid for Ukraine.
Of all the available models, Ukraine has shown the most interest in the U.S.-built F-16, in service since the 1970s and operated by over 20 nations.
Other models assessed to be a good fit for Ukraine include French Rafale, Swedish Gripen, and Eurofighter Typhoon jets.
Because of the increased complexity and difficulty in training and maintenance involved, delivering new fighter jets is seen as a significantly tougher logistical challenge compared to the provision of Western-built tanks.