Why NATO Focused on Air Defense Systems vs. Fighter Jets

At a meeting between US and European military officials to discuss the Ukraine dispute, Kyiv made a plea for advanced fighter jets, which has not been granted yet. This appeal for modern aircraft was the most recent expression of the Ukrainian government’s request. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov made a clear statement to the Western defense chiefs meeting on Tuesday, highlighting Ukraine’s urgent need for fighter jets. 

The Ukraine government has been pushing for advanced fighter jets from the US and European military forces to aid in its defense against Russia for months now. While NATO has thus far opted to focus on providing ground-based military resources such as artillery, tanks, and air defense systems, it is increasingly evident that Kyiv needs more sophisticated aircraft in order to best face off against the Russians. 

First and foremost, it is important to note that while Kyiv’s request for advanced aircraft has not yet been granted by NATO forces, the Ukrainian government believes that they can gain the upper hand over their opponent through improved air power capabilities. A Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) report notes that acquiring modern aircraft will give Ukraine a much-needed edge over Russia’s outdated aerial techniques.

“The Russian air force is not likely to possess air superiority over Ukraine, and it has run low on stocks of long-range, precision-guided munitions. Russia will also likely face long-term supply chain challenges for some weapons systems because of Western economic sanctions.”

In addition to improving its aerial capabilities, Kyiv must also focus on improving its air defense systems for them to effectively counter Russian advances. This includes investing in new surveillance technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and high-altitude radar systems, which are capable of detecting any incoming enemy craft before they reach Ukrainian airspace.