Former US Army Europe Commander Ben Hodges spoke to Voice of America about the capabilities of the F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine and why criticism of the counteroffensive is unjustified.
The retired US general is convinced that the Russians will try to attack bases with F-16s, but the Ukrainians will find a way to protect the fighter jets from shelling.
At the same time, Gen. Hodges believes it will take several months after the F-16s are delivered before they can have a tangible impact on the battlefield in the Ukraine-Russia war and will help the Ukrainians to get an advantage in the sky.
Ben Hodges stressed that F-16s will help Ukraine in the war with Russia, but no single miracle weapon can decide the war’s outcome. The retired general believes it will take several months before the effect of the F-16s in Ukraine will be felt.
Former US Army Europe Commander Ben Hodges believes the US should have provided Ukraine with the fighter jets much earlier.
“It’s terrible that we wasted a year and a half because it should have happened a long time ago,” the general said.
He believes the Administration was slow in making decisions because it was unsure of what it wanted to achieve in Ukraine.
Ben Hodges believes that Ukrainian pilots will quickly master the F-16 aircraft.
“The Ukrainians have impressed me not only with how quickly they learn but also with their technical abilities,” said Ben Hodges.
Commenting on the assertions that the Ukrainian counter-offensive is slow, Ben Hodges noted that observers see only a ground operation. He emphasised that the passage of infantry and tanks through minefields and the breakthrough of enemy defences was only one component of the Ukrainian counter-offensive against the Russian invading tropps.
“A counteroffensive is more than a ground attack,” Hodges said.
He reminded that the Ukrainian military had carried out long-range strikes on Russian military facilities in Crimea, supply chains and ammunition depots using long-range missiles, launched maritime drone strikes on Russian ships, and drone strikes on Russian airfields in Russia and drone attacks on Moscow. According to Ben Hodges, this is essential to the generally successful counteroffensive.