As always, the article will not take into account the political situation and other circumstances based on the use of natural human stupidity, but only the technical aspects of the problem.

It takes several months to train Ukrainian pilots to fly NATO military aircraft (subject to prior study of all manuals), because the principles of flight are the same, and our pilots know how to “fly”. The use of high-precision (and other makes no sense) aviation means of destruction takes longer, both because of their complexity (in Soviet aviation there has never been anything like it) and because of their wide range. And for all this to be effective, it takes years of constant and continuous training and combat coherence.

Of course, some training can be done before a positive decision is made: studying manuals, learning from NATO pilots, and using a flight simulator to learn about the concept of Western aviation weapons (virtual VR helmet flights give a good idea of many aspects).

It will be difficult to organize maintenance and repairs on Ukrainian territory for several reasons. The main thing is that it takes a long time to train technical personnel, and there is a high probability of long-rang enemy missiles hitting training bases. So, one could rely on bases in the EU with the appropriate equipment.

But all this makes sense if you know that sooner or later Western technology will enter service. Another option is the transfer of all available to the allies of the Soviet-style aircraft to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Thi decision is less effective, but still more likely. Although Soviet planes and helicopters are by all criteria much worse than Western ones (real technical specifications, efficiency, reliability and engine resources, unit life, flight failures, avionics performance, countermeasures, radar, etc. ), these shortcomings cannot be even compared with the advantages of NATO air weapons over Soviet/Russian/Chinese – there is just an abyss of eternity between them.

So maybe it is possible to “fasten” the Western air weapons to the Soviet aircraft, which are available in the Armed Forces and have a better chance of transfer from the Allies? Of course, this is possible in principle (at least following the example of the United States, which has repeatedly extended the life of its military aircraft by upgrading them to new air weapons), but former Warsaw Pact countries that joined NATO for some reason did not do so, deciding to immediately move to the West. And the reasons for this are not only the difficulty of combining antediluvian aircraft with modern air weapons, but also the cost of operating aircraft (namely, Western aircraft and helicopters are much cheaper to operate than Soviet), of course, compliance with NATO standards, and most importantly – aviation armament complex.

We now have a “slightly” different situation, and, in my opinion, to consider the possibility of equipping Soviet-style aircraft with Western means of destruction makes sense in any scenario (1 – the provision of NATO aircraft, 2 – the provision of Soviet aircraft, 3 – only what is available now).

It is not possible to draw a conclusion about the whole range of air weapons in groups or even by types, because they are all very different, so it is better to consider each one, taking into account only those that will increase the efficiency of military aviation. The only thing that will be common to all air weapons is the ability to connect NATO pylons to the suspension units of Soviet aircraft. This is where eclectic compatibility, signal recoding, connector combinations, mechanical connections, and so on come in.

What if the Armed Forces of Ukraine don’t get NATO aircraft

Without first solving a fundamental problem, it doesn’t even make sense to start this story. And that’s just a must, but it’s not enough. Outdated Soviet technology is in principle incapable of generating signals from the onboard computers of Western aircraft, so electronic units will have to be created to synthesize them, but most high-tech features will have to be abandoned for reliability and time savings.

However, the question will make sense if you set up at least the simplest features, such as activating the air weapons and launch. The fact is that the main advantage of Western air weapons – their high autonomy – may be an advantage in terms of their combination with atypical aircraft.

First, these are guided air-to-air missiles, of which it makes sense to consider only the latest modifications of the AIM-120C and AIM-9X. Of course, many modes of use of these fire-and-forget missiles will be unavailable due to the primitive radar of Soviet aircraft. It would be very useful, but unlikely, to connect the AIM-9 automatic homing head to our aircraft.

But even American aircraft with perfect radar have Visual mode, when the missile is launched without first capturing the target, but with activated automatic homing head, which itself captures the target in sight. This mode will be especially useful in a melee situation where one against many and no time for manipulation.

Of course, there are disadvantages, because without prior guidance on the target AIM-120 will not fly on the optimal trajectory and significantly lose in range, and in Visual mode there is a chance to hit a friendly target, but in any case a pair (or 2 + 2) modern American missiles will significantly increase the efficiency of any existing aircraft (especially the Su-27, which has as many as 10 suspension points). We should not forget about the emotional aspect, which will significantly improve the moods of pilots of the Armed Forces, and cause massive diarrhea to Putin’s falcons, as well as refusal to fly and cases of ejection escape when their air defense reacts to the radiation of our active radar homing.

Secondly, and most importantly, are controlled / corrected means of air-ground damage. And first of all it is necessary to reject the weapons that combination of which with our aircraft will be too difficult. Ironically, these are JDAM GPS-guided bombs are NATO’s simplest and cheapest weapons.

It is unlikely that it is possible to combine the Soviet targeting system and JDAM bombs, but the main problem is not even that (because the coordinates can be set on the ground), but that BEOM has to calculate the trajectory and area of dropping bombs. Laser-guided APCs are unlikely to be used because the principles of laser-guided guidance in NATO and Soviet weapons are very different. It is possible only with the help of an external fire adjuster on the ground or a UAV.

Glide bombs AGM-154 JSOW and AGM-158 JASSM have much better autonomy of guidance systems and require only the correct heights and speeds at launch, which is quite easy to ensure, but the targets must also be introduced in advance on the ground.

There may be some difficulties with the combination of AGM-65, but if you solve the problem of transmitting images from automatic homing heads missiles to an additional display in the aircraft and transmitting signals from the aircraft to the missile targeting and capturing targets, two modes of scale and disorientation of automatic homing heads, aircraft like Su-24/25 can get weapons that will increase their effectiveness several times.

What if the Armed Forces of Ukraine don’t get NATO aircraft

AGM-88 anti-radar missiles can be aimed at radiation by capturing a target on the wing, but significantly reduces the range. You also need a display to show automatic homing head information about the target radiation sources and a means to capture the target.

Free-falling ammunition is the main weapon of our air force, but even here the allies have something to please our pilots. CBU cluster bombs are a very effective weapon, especially the CBU-97, which is equipped with smart ten submunitions capable of self-targeting after the bomb is opened with the help of built-in laser and infrared sensors. Of course, this requires reprogramming the trajectory calculator in the on-board computer (and it is possible that some available in the memory of on-board computer will do if it has similar specifications), but it is definitely worth it, given the incredible efficiency of these munitions. In addition, it will allow the use of the CBU-87 cluster bomb, which is more suitable for hitting lightly armored targets.

Yes, it was necessary to do this long before February 24, 2022, to have time to develop an optimal program to modernize the Air Forces, but now we need to start from the current realities and offer allies concrete ideas and demand concrete supplies, not just say “close the sky”, “unlock the ports”, “give heavy weapons”.