Where Are the Pilots?

ISW: Ukraine needs 150 F-16s to gain air-superiority

Shankar Narayan
6 min readJun 13, 2024
Pilots (Licensed Image)

How do you achieve air superiority with 150 fighter jets against an enemy operating 300 aircraft? It’s quite intriguing that Western and Ukrainian planners consider 150 to be a critical number, where the balance of air power would shift favorably toward Ukraine. I believe it could. There’s much that can be accomplished with 150 jets, and it’s entirely plausible to decisively win this war once and for all.

According to Institute for the Study of War (ISW):

Ukrainian and Western officials have previously indicated that it will take significant time to adequately train enough Ukrainian pilots and equip Ukrainian forces with the roughly at least 150 F-16s necessary to gain the air superiority necessary to support ground operations.

Ukrainian officials have also identified their envisioned use of F-16s and other fixed-wing aircraft to constrain Russian aviation operations.

Achieving this isn’t particularly difficult, and we may already be halfway there. Currently, 65 fighter jets have been pledged to Ukraine by the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway. If Belgium and Greece increase their commitments, progress could accelerate.

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Shankar Narayan

He didn't care what he had or what he had left, he cared only about what he must do.