In a post Twitter released this friday 1er April, the Ukrainian army urged the NATO countries to provide it with more sophisticated military air equipment to counter the Russian invasion. This new call for help comes as Moscow, which had pledged to reduce its military presence, especially around kyiv, continues to bomb several major cities in the country.
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With a budget of 55.91 billion euros in 2020, Moscow is one of the largest military powers in the world, far ahead of Ukraine, which allocated nearly 5.36 billion euros to its military expenditure the same year.
kyiv thus recognizes a “great gap in equipment and technologies”recalling that the Russian Air Force is “several times larger than that of Ukraine” and would have access to “more advanced radar and missile technologies”. Stressing the crucial role of air superiority in the outcome of the fighting, Ukraine calls, “emergency”, to his allies, “more modern combat aircraft and air defense tools since the beginning of the war”.
► What missiles does Ukraine have?
The Stinger missile launchers (or FIM-92 Stinger), notably delivered by the United States, would not, according to kyiv, be able to “compensate for the lack of modern combat aircraft and medium- and long-range missile defense systems”.
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Short-range, these missiles are mainly used by the Ukrainian army to hit helicopters or combat aircraft at low altitude. Ukraine operates long-range S-300 missiles that cannot go beyond 1,100 kilometers. Describing them as “obsolete systems from the Soviet era”, the air force nevertheless asked the allied states to provide it with more. Ukraine finally asks NATO to send ” SAT ” or anti-aircraft missile intended to hit an aerial target by being fired from the ground.
Conversely, according to kyiv, Russian troops have more recent and efficient missiles, in particular the S-400 (fourth generation) which were, in 2019, considered to be the most advanced version of missiles in the world. These missiles would indeed have radar capable of hooking 80 targets and controlling up to 160 missiles. It also has an anti-missile capability.
► Why is Ukraine asking for new generation fighter jets?
On the aviation side, the army denounces the lack of recent planes, evoking the F-15 and F-16 which are supersonic and twin-engine fighter planes of the fourth generation. “Unlike the Soviet-era MiG-29s, these jets are equipped with the advanced technologies used by the enemy, including advanced radars and modern missiles,” explains the Ukrainian army.
Russia has, according to Ukrainian sources, a whole arsenal of fourth and fifth generation aircraft. From the latter, we can notably note several Sukhoi Su-57 which are multipurpose combat aircraft whose latest version was put into service on December 25, 2020. Similarly, the MiG-29 are no longer ordered by the Russian army, which prefers its more modern version, the MiG-35 Fulcrum-E, the first tests of which date from 2019.
► Why are NATO countries being cautious?
For now, as since the beginning of the conflict, Western countries are skeptical about sending more powerful weapons. Despite the $2 billion in aid allocated to kyiv since January 2021, US President Joe Biden vetoed the supply of Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets in early March for fear of causing an escalation of the violence.
At a summit on March 24 in Brussels between the G7 and NATO countries, Emmanuel Macron reaffirmed the West’s line in this conflict: to continue to supply defensive and lethal weapons to Ukraine. However, the French president had reiterated his position not to deliver new equipment like tanks or planes to the Ukrainian army.