Chief of the Norwegian Air Force: – Combat aircraft can decide the war

Major General and Commander of the Norwegian Air Force, Rolf Folland, is sure that new combat aircraft for Ukraine can be the big difference, and ultimately decide that war.

– Fighter aircraft can decide the war, states the major general.

In the NATO countries, there has been a debate in recent weeks about providing Ukraine with Western fighter jets.

Folland points out that it is a Polish issue, which the democratically elected leaders of the NATO countries must take a stand on.

But at the same time, he “pours cold water into the veins” of those who believe that Norwegian F-16 fighters and other Western-produced combat aircraft will immediately be able to make a difference in the course of the war.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko are not particularly happy that Britain is now sending ammunition with depleted uranium to Ukraine. Reporter. Edward Stenlund / Magnus Paus. Video: AP / ZvezdaNews / Storyblocks / The US Armed Forces.
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Long training

– The Ukrainian pilots are skilled, but it will take five to six months of intense training before they will be able to operate new Western combat aircraft, says Folland.

Alongside the pilots, Folland points out that a comprehensive plan is needed, with maintenance and ground crews, for Ukraine to be able to operate new aircraft manufactured in NATO countries.

Norway has already sold, but not delivered, its used F-16 aircraft. 32 has been sold for 388 million Euros (4.4 billion NOK) to Romania. 12 aircraft have been sold to an American company – Draken International. For the 13 remaining aircraft that cannot be sold, an overall assessment will be made as to whether the aircraft should be exhibited in a museum, sold for parts or destroyed.

Get Soviet aircraft

Several Eastern European countries have already decided, while other countries are considering sending their old fighter jets from the Soviet era to Ukraine.

– The natural thing will be that western combat aircraft will replace these. Then Ukraine will get aircraft that they already have, and be able to put them into use immediately, says Folland.

Both Poland and Slovakia have decided to donate 12 Soviet-made MiG-29s – a Russian twin-engine fighter that entered service in 1983. A fighter that is still in use in the Russian Air Force and in several other countries – including in Eastern Europe.

GET AIRCRAFT: Poland and Slovakia are now sending their old Soviet Mig-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. Photo: NTB
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Folland describes the Soviet-produced MiG-29 aircraft as potent and good combat aircraft.

Air supremacy

When the war started, Ukraine had 125 combat aircraft, but the Russians had 1,379 combat aircraft. Despite being outnumbered 12 to 1 in Russia’s favor, Putin’s forces have not been able to dominate the airspace.

– How is it possible that the Russians have not been able to exploit their superior air power in Ukraine?

– The war and the invasion in Ukraine have shown that Russia is unable to carry out complex military operations. They have not been able to take control of the airspace, which would have given the Russian ground forces completely different options. Russia’s challenge is that they have not been able to coordinate military air, land and sea operations, says Folland.

– We saw in Syria that the Russians were able to coordinate military operations, but it was in smaller operations. Historically, from the Soviet era, it has been the case that the air forces have been subordinate to the army forces.

More than a year after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military continues to retrieve war material of increasingly old vintage. Video: Jostein Sletten / Dagbladet TV
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Militarily superior

– Does Russia have the air force to take control of Ukraine?

– They have capable aircraft and weapons, but have not been able to put together complex air operations, for air superiority. If the Russians had managed to take air supremacy (air supremacy means having control over the airspace, so that their own ground forces can operate without being exposed to attacks from enemy air forces. And at the same time can attack the enemy’s ground forces unimpeded, ed. note) over Ukraine, the war would have changed character, says the head of the Norwegian Air Force.

– What is the reason why Ukraine has been able to stand up to Russia’s military superiority in airspace?

– There are several reasons for that. Since the invasion of Crimea in 2014, Ukraine has built up and strengthened its air defenses. At the same time, they have used their limited resources smartly and been creative, says Folland.

– The ground air defense is mobile, and has been effectively moved around, so that the Russians have not been able to put it out of action, says Folland.

Morale and will to fight

The major general also emphasizes the importance of the fighting morale of the Ukrainians.

– An important reason why the Russian invasion forces have not been able to defeat Ukraine is that the Russian forces lack both morale and the will to fight.

– The Ukrainians are fighting for their existence and freedom, while the Russians do not know why they are at war, and lack morale, says Folland to Dagbladet.

NEED AIRCRAFT: - Ukraine needs combat aircraft to gain control of the airspace, says Major General Rolf Folland.  Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB

NEED AIRCRAFT: – Ukraine needs combat aircraft to gain control of the airspace, says Major General Rolf Folland. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten / NTB
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Although the major-general refers to Ukrainian fighting spirit and morale, he is clear that Ukraine cannot win the war without Western help.

– Ukraine needs continuous replenishment of ammunition, replacement of damaged equipment and new weapons, in order to be able to fight Russia, says Major General and Commander of the Norwegian Air Force Rolf Folland.