bjn wrote: ↑
Tue Dec 26, 2023 7:01 pm
The Ukrainians won’t get air superiority with F-16s, let a lone supremacy, but it will severely hamper the Russians the ability to use their warplanes to deliver dumb bombs and glide bombs, so taking pressure off the Ukrainian troops on the ground. Since the SU-34s got shot down they’ve stopped dropping glide bombs on the Dnipro bridgehead. If F-16s can do that for all active parts of the front, they don’t need to shoot down the Russian aircraft to be effective. The same way that the job of Atlantic convoy escorts in WWII was not to hunt and sink subs, but to interfere with their operation so that they were ineffective.
Absolutely. They also offer more flexible use of AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles, and the potential to carry a wider variety of western standoff air-to-ground munitions - though only if the yanks can be persuaded to part with them.
We've seen how effective Storm Shadow is. The Americans have a similar missile, the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile, which is roughly comparable in performance. It's in production, but more than that they've decided they need the more modern longer ranged variant in the event of war with China and are procuring masses of those, so they could absolutely spare some of the older models. The older models have a bit less range than Storm Shadow, but still plenty enough range to hit occupied parts of Ukraine, and they're already designed to be fired from F-16s. Sadly, as we've seen with the tiny supply of ATACMS provided, the USA is pretty shoddy when it comes to providing decent equipment to Ukraine and the leadership is still self-deterring, aside from issues they have with Congress.
It's increasingly clear the Novocherkassk was carrying ammunition from Russia to occupied Crimea, as the blast was so powerful it distributed chunks of ship across hundreds of metres. That suggests Russia isn't managing to move as much ammunition as they want across the Kerch Strait bridges. They are still vulnerable there, and long range missiles - which with this we've established can hit targets right under the nose of Russia's best SAM systems - can threaten that bridge. Sadly the best missiles for the job are probably Taurus - which the Germans won't send - and ATACMS - of which the Americans only sent a few older models, and despite Ukraine's skilled and successful use of them, has not sent more. The former because it has a void sensing fuse that is perfect for destroying bridges, and the latter because it gets to the target quick enough it could be used to target an ammunition or fuel train as it crosses the bridge to increase the damage inflicted.