A decorated former US F-16 pilot says he would fly fighter jets for Ukraine: 'You can count on me,' he told a VOA interviewer

Dan Hampton standing in front of a military jet.
The former US Air Force pilot Dan Hampton.Dan Hampton Facebook page
  • A decorated former US Air Force pilot said he would fly fighter jets for Ukraine if necessary.

  • Retired Lt. Col. Dan "Two Dogs" Hampton discussed the US F-16's potential in the Russia-Ukraine war.

  • "I'll even go myself, you can count on me," the retired lieutenant colonel told Voice of America.

Dan Hampton, a retired lieutenant colonel known as the US Air Force's "deadliest F-16 pilot," told Voice of America he was ready to fly planes for Ukraine's military himself if necessary.

The highly decorated pilot, known as "Two Dogs," spent 20 years in the Air Force, fought in the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, and Iraq wars, and is a New York Times best-selling author for his memoirs from his time in the military.

Speaking from a base in Arizona, Hampton discussed his thoughts in the long-form interview on training F-16 pilots to fight in Ukraine, the advantages of using the jets, and whether Ukraine's government should hire private pilots with the war continuing into its second year.

The F-16, a US single-seat fighter jet, is in the news after President Joe Biden recently said he wouldn't supply the planes to Ukraine for the time being. A bipartisan group of senators, however, has more recently pushed the Pentagon to send the jets, which the group argues "could prove to be a game changer on the battlefield," per Politico.

Earlier this week, Poland became the first NATO country to publicly commit to sending MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine.

"No one has ever won a war from the air," Hampton told VOA, an international news outlet the US government helps fund. He added: "You can't win a war from the air, but you can lose a war if you don't control the airspace."

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft
A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.US Air Force photo by Senior Airman Taylor Crul

Hampton told the interviewer the Ukrainian government could hire private contractors who already know how to fly F-16s, which he said "buys you time" and "helps you win the war."

"I'll even go myself. You can count on me," Hampton said.

Hampton, 58, flew 151 sorties in his distinguished career from 1986 to 2006. He is the most decorated flyer since the Vietnam War, according to VOA, having been awarded the Purple Heart, four Distinguished Flying Crosses for extraordinary heroism, and eight "Air Medals" of the US Air Force for valor during combat operations in the air.

The retired lieutenant colonel reiterated his commitment to the Ukrainian cause after explaining he thought it would be faster to send pilots who know how to fly rather than "sending Ukrainian pilots to the US and sending them to a training program."

The former pilot calls Russia's Su-35 fighter 'junk'

Two Ukrainian pilots were recently sent to Arizona, according to NBC News, for US authorities to determine how long it would take to train them to fly the jets, as well as to improve their skills.

Calling Russia's invasion of Ukraine a "black and white" issue of "good versus evil," Hampton said governments "that can provide these services should."

"I will even go myself," he repeated. "I will be number one. You can count on me."

The smoking debris of a Russian Su-35 fighter jet that crashed in a field in Ukraine.
A Russian Su-35 downed by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region on April 3.Press service of the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Staff/Handout via REUTERS

Hampton also compared F-16 planes — a multirole fighter that can attack air-to-ground and air-to-air — to the Russian Su-35 jets, saying the Russian model being used in the war "looks good at air shows" but was, in his opinion, "junk."

Insider recently reported that a US Air Force official called fighter jets "worthless" over Ukraine because both sides of the conflict had mastered long-range missile defense.

Read the original article on Business Insider