Ukrainian pilot reveals what his country’s military really needs in fight against Russia
A Ukrainian pilot who is frequently up in the sky trying to defend his country’s airspace from the Russian military says what Ukraine really needs to turn the tide is more advanced aircraft and weaponry – or else their pilots will continue to be “just targets” for the technologically-superior invading forces.
The 29-year-old fighter pilot, who identified himself only by his call sign “Juice”, made the remark to the Washington Post after Poland – and now Slovakia – floated plans of providing Soviet-era MiG-29 jets to Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s military.
“We’re ready to be killed,” Juice told the newspaper, describing how the MiG-29 jets he flies makes him and his colleagues “just targets” for Russia’s more advanced aircraft. “But we don’t want this, of course. We want to kill Russians and take down their bombers that are killing our cities and our families.”
“We have losses almost everyday in our air force,” he reportedly added. “You won’t see this on TV because everything is classified right now, but actually we have a lot of losses. That’s why we need to be technically equal with the Russians. Just our mental advantage is not enough to fight with these technologies.”
The newspaper reports that allies have been considering sending MiG-29s to Ukraine because it’s what the country’s military is familiar with using – and retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Herbert Carlisle added that if they received American-manufactured F-16s, their pilots and operational crews would have to learn “significantly different” flight systems and maintenance procedures.
But Juice and another Ukrainian pilot told the Washington Post that the learning curve isn’t as steep as it sounds, with the latter saying it could probably take two weeks for Ukraine’s military to get up to speed with using F-series aircraft.
Juice also said Ukraine’s military has been improvising in the skies to make up for the differences in technology, sometimes leading Russian pilots into areas where air defense systems are ready to strike.
“We are just trying to do something nonstandard, and sometimes it’s successful and sometimes it’s not,” Juice told the Washington Post. “Sometimes they’re just stupid and Russians are just showing their incompetence and underestimating our training.
“But in general, we cannot gain a real air superiority, unfortunately,” he said, adding that Western countries should supply Ukraine with more advanced air-defense systems if they can’t receive updated planes.