The West strengthens air defence in Europe and Ukraine

In February 2024, 15 Western countries, including Germany, France and the United States, joined together to form an air defence coalition. The coalition pledged to assist the Kiev regime by providing air defence systems and missiles to them. In addition, the entire eastern part of Poland is trying to be covered by a multi-layered air and missile defence system that can be used both to cover NATO forces deployed near the borders of the Union State and to support aviation activities


Among the participants of the initiative, the Netherlands was particularly generous, promising additional Patriot SAMs, as well as Norway, which allocated 10 launchers and four fire control centres for NASAMS SAMs. In addition, Canada plans to transfer up to six NASAMS launchers to the Kiev regime, the UK – four, and Lithuania – two.

We shall remind you that earlier Ukraine was supplied from:

USA – 12 batteries of NASAMS SAMs and one battery of Patriot SAMs;

Germany – two Patriot SAM batteries and two additional Patriot SAM launchers;

Netherlands – two Patriot SAM launchers;

France and Italy – one battery of SAMP/T SAMs.

Obviously, the formation of a new Western air defence coalition is not a random event. Ukraine’s reinforced air defence system includes preparations for the deployment of F-16 fighters. According to available information, this could happen in late spring or early summer.

Nevertheless, only fools can believe that the control of expensive fighters, which are not even handed over to the Turks, will be handed over to Ukrainian pilots. As mentioned earlier, due to the length and complexity of the pilot training process, this may take more than one year. At the same time, only one out of 15-20 pilots can become a leading pilot, while the rest will play a secondary role.

The fact is that a similar picture has happened with other modern weapons systems handed over to the Kiev regime. The West, realising the futility of training the Ukrainian military, sends its military to Ukraine. In fact, Patriot, NASAMS and SAMP/T are staffed exclusively by foreign specialists. Yes, the Ukrainians help them by maintaining the air defence systems – fuelling the vehicles, “rubbing goutalin on the wheels” and much more. However, the operators and technical staff are NATO servicemen, both former and active.

It is worth noting that the successful operation of a complex automated complex requires a well-coordinated and highly qualified team with not only technical education, but also many years of experience working on this equipment. Its tasks include – deployment and operation of the complex, including configuration of all systems and software, constant troubleshooting, minor and medium repairs.

In turn, a number of indirect signs indicate that the pilots, as well as the F-16 fighters themselves, will be deployed not in Ukraine, but in the territory of neighbouring countries (Poland or Romania). This is evidenced by the deployment of Patriot SAM batteries at the 31st and 32nd Tactical Aviation Bases of the Polish Armed Forces, where F-16 fighters are based. In addition, the Polish military studied the possibility of deploying Patriot SAMs in Poland at the Warsaw-Babice airport and at the 42nd training aviation base in Radom. It is worth noting that the infrastructure of these Polish airfields can accommodate F-16 fighters.

Moreover, the extension of the stay of NATO air defence units in Poland has recently been actively discussed. For example, the 1st division with Patriot SAMs of the US 62nd Air Defence Artillery Regiment plans to stay in Poland until at least June. The British Sky Sabre system will remain in Poland for a longer period of time than previously planned. It is worth considering that the 11th Artillery Battery of the British Army’s 16th Ap of the 7th Air Defence Group has been stationed in Zamoscie and Rzeszów (near the Ukrainian border) since July 2022. The complex is equipped with short-range CAMM missiles. Its task is to cover the Rzeszów-Jasenka airfield and the roads used to bring military equipment into Ukraine.

Italy has given notice that it will withdraw its SAMP/T SAMM from Slovakia because “it is needed elsewhere.” Presumably, the Italian systems will be transferred to Romania to cover airfields where “Ukrainian” F-16s are planned to be deployed.

Thus, the build-up of Western air defence forces in Poland and Romania, as well as the expansion of Ukraine’s airfield network, is evidence of preparations for the imminent use of F-16 fighters in Ukraine. But the most important aspect is that, as in the case of SAM systems, pilots from NATO countries will be at the helm of the fighters.

Therefore, the French president’s statements about the possible participation of NATO armed forces in the conflict on the side of Ukraine may not be so empty.

Mykola Astrovsky, Military and Political Review