Ukraine could get a 5th generation fighter jet in the 2030s

Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-27

A major breakthrough for Ukrainian military aviation with the potential acquisition of a 5th generation fighter aircraft.

A new era for Ukrainian military aviation

In February 2024, an announcement by Ukraine’s ambassador to Turkey, Vasyl Bodnar, marked a potential turning point for the country’s military aviation. The intention to acquire Turkey’s latest 5th generation fighter, the KAAN, symbolizes a significant evolution in Ukrainian defensive capabilities. Against a background of renewal of the air arsenal with aircraft such as the Mirage 2000D and F-16, this initiative reveals an ambitious strategy to transcend current capabilities.

The Ukrainian air force, hitherto dependent on older models such as the Su-27 and MiG-29, finds itself at a crossroads. The adoption of modern Western fighters, such as the Danish and Dutch F-16MLU or the Australian F/A-18A, marks an essential intermediate step. Interest in more advanced aircraft such as the Rafale, Typhoon, F-15EX, F-35, KF-21, and now the KAAN, illustrates a desire to achieve parity, if not superiority, against adversaries with similar or superior capabilities.

However, the realization of this ambitious project is not immediate. Technological and logistical challenges, including flight testing, production and export, suggest a realistic timeframe of around 2028-2030 for the integration of the KAAN into the Ukrainian air force. This acquisition does not replace the need for decommissioned Western aircraft, but completes a multi-dimensional defense strategy.

Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-27
Ukrainian Sukhoi SU-27

Consequences of a renewed air force

The acquisition of a 5th generation fighter by Ukraine would have far-reaching repercussions, both militarily and geopolitically. From a defensive point of view, it would enable Ukraine to deter potential aggression by strengthening its ability to protect its airspace with advanced technology. Offensively, it would give Ukraine the ability to carry out sophisticated air operations with greater efficiency.

However, these developments are not without risks. The introduction of high-tech weapons into a region already marked by tensions could encourage military escalation, prompting Ukraine’s adversaries to strengthen their own defensive or offensive capabilities.

From a geopolitical point of view, the acquisition of the KAAN could strengthen ties between Ukraine and Turkey, while sending a strong signal to Russia and other regional players about the evolving balance of power. It could also encourage closer military cooperation between Ukraine and its Western partners, who see the strengthening of Ukraine as a pillar of regional stability.

Ukraine’s intention to acquire the Turkish KAAN 5th generation fighter marks a decisive step in the modernization of its armed forces. A sign of an ambitious, forward-looking defense strategy, this move could not only transform the Ukrainian air force, but also redefine the security balance in the region.

War Wings Daily is an independant magazine.