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The F-16, Crimea, and the end of the war. What will happen next?

Damaged Russian tank near Vuhledar
Damaged Russian tank near Vuhledar

In what direction will the Russian and Ukrainian armies develop, and where will the main battles be fought in 2024?

The war in Ukraine has become not only a war of worldviews and military science, but also a war of technology. Western support has allowed the Defense Forces to compensate for losses in equipment with modern models that were previously out of the question. It also opened up opportunities to create labor-intensive weapons using Western technologies.

At the same time, the Russian army continues to degrade, decommissioning old Soviet equipment. The quantity of new models is small. In addition, Russia is forced to turn to Iran and North Korea for support, which has negatively affected its reputation as a country with a self-sufficient military-industrial complex. This is the direction in which both armies will continue to develop. More precisely, one will develop, and the other will degrade.

Today, Ukraine has the opportunity to develop several promising areas, including drone technology. In addition, Ukraine has managed to preserve rocketry and modernize the R-360 of the Neptune missile system. Another crucial area is the production of artillery ammunition, which is gradually reaching new volumes. However, it is not yet possible to discuss creating new productions of heavy, medium, and light armored vehicles. This will be possible after the war is over.

Russia is turning into a repair-based country

Therefore, we will depend on our partners to supply a wide range of this equipment. A vital solution could be the transfer of TAURUS cruise missiles from Germany, as well as bringing the supply of ATACMS missiles to the system level with various modifications. Ukraine needs a modification with the M39/M39A1 cluster warhead and the M57/M57E1 high-explosive, penetrating warhead.

We are all waiting for the delivery of F-16 fighters, but knowing what kind of missile weapons will be delivered is essential. This will determine the level of their effectiveness. For example, we need modifications to the AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile to destroy air targets over long distances. To destroy targets at short and medium distances, we need the AIM-9 and more. To destroy land targets, the F-16 has the AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon tactical guided air bomb or the AGM-158 JASSM cruise missile. To combat surface targets, we will need the AGM-119 anti-ship missile. At the same time, an important factor will be to support the F-16 with AWACS airborne detection and targeting systems.

Russia is turning into a repair-based country. The Russian military-industrial complex has crossed the point of no return, and the combat capability of the entire country has reached a critical point of non-replacement of losses even after decades. Yes, Moscow seems to have an endless human resource, but this resource solves little without equipment. 2024 should be the year when maintaining positions will become an impossible task for Russia.

In general, the Defense Forces' future actions should be treated with restraint and rationality. In 2024, we will neither end the war nor liberate Crimea. But this does not mean that we will not have victories. We will. First of all, in the mainland south.

The main battlefield will be the left-bank Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. The JFO has every chance of pushing Russian troops away from the left bank, creating a stalemate in the south by weakening the Dnipro group of soldiers and influencing the development of events in the Zaporizhzhia region. A key element will be the Crimean bridge, depending on whether it will be operational. According to the optimistic scenario, in 2024, we will reach the administrative borders of Crimea and will be able to start creating conditions for its liberation.

The sequence of the JFO's liberation activities is seen as a systematic offensive in the mainland south of Ukraine, followed by the Crimean operation, and only at the end can we talk about the beginning of the campaign to de-occupy the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts.

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Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine