Ukraine’s air force pilots, operating Soviet-era aircraft, are struggling to contain Russia’s superior air power amid ongoing counterattack operations, which has led to its fervent plea to allied nations to fly the F-16s.
The technologically advanced Russian Su-35s, which are equipped with advanced radars and long-range missiles, have outperformed the old Ukrainian Su-25s, which were introduced in the 1980s.
In an interview with CNN, Oleksiy, an Su-25 pilot, revealed the grim reality of their situation, saying, “We are losing many aircraft because of these interceptors.”
With first-hand experience in grueling combat, he and his fellow pilots have borne the devastating toll of losing many comrades since the start of the all-out Russian invasion a year and a half ago.
In a gloomy reflection, Oleksey said sadly: “I have lost my squadron commander and my wingman in combat. They are both champions of Ukraine.”
Oleksey remains one of only a few dozen pilots who continue to take to the skies for the Ukrainian Air Force. With Ukraine going on the offensive, the indispensable role of attack aircraft pilots, including Oleksey, has never been more needed.
The Ukrainian Air Force, though outnumbered and lagging behind compared to its Russian counterpart, is actively engaged in providing crucial support to Ukrainian ground forces on the front lines as the counter-offensive is gaining momentum.
However, the Russian Air Force maintains air superiority on the battlefield.
Earlier, a senior Ukrainian official expressed concern about Russia’s Su-35s, noting that these advanced fighter jets give Russia “growing dominance” in the skies over the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine.
The official also said that Ukraine’s aging Soviet-era planes lacked the capabilities to effectively counter this formidable threat.
And the deputy commander of a battalion of the 128th separate territorial defense brigade compared the uncompromising air operations of Russian aviation to the waves seen in conflicts such as Vietnam and Afghanistan.
The constant presence of helicopters and planes throughout the day underscores the urgent need for adequate air support.
According to CNN, the Ukrainian aircraft stockpile has seen some build-up, with a total of 45 Su-25s and MiG-29s received from NATO and allied countries in Europe. However, the challenges faced by the Ukrainian Air Force go beyond just numbers.
Acknowledging these difficulties, a MiG-29 pilot known as “Juice” told the US-based media that Western countries could help them greatly by providing Ukraine with the highly sought-after F-16s, highlighting the importance of the advanced combat aircraft. In strengthening the air capabilities of Ukraine.