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F-16 fighter jets: Biden will let allies deliver warplanes in big Kyiv boost

The US will allow its Western partners to provide Ukraine with modern combat jets, including F-16s.

President Joe Biden “informed his G7 counterparts” of the decision on Friday, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan stated that US troops will also educate Ukrainian pilots in the use of the jets.

According to state-run media, Russia warned other nations that supplying Ukraine with F-16s would expose them to “enormous risks.”

F-16 fighter jets: biden will let allies deliver warplanes in big kyiv boost
F-16 fighter jets: Biden will let allies deliver warplanes in big Kyiv boost

Alexander Grushko, deputy foreign minister, stated to the state-owned news agency Tass that Western nations “remain committed to the scenario of escalation.”

“This will be incorporated into all of our plans, and we have all the resources necessary to achieve our objectives,” he said.

President Volodymyr Zelensky praised the move as a “historic decision” in light of Ukraine’s long-standing desire for advanced jets.

The United States must approve any resale or reexport of American military equipment. So this decision allows other nations to transfer their existing stocks of F-16s to Ukraine.

No government has declared that Kyiv would receive the upgraded jets it sorely wants, but it appears increasingly likely.

The United States and its allies have so far “focused on providing Ukraine with the systems, weapons, and training it needs to conduct offensive operations this spring and summer,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters in Hiroshima, describing the moves as Washington’s “long-term commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense.”

“As the training unfolds in the coming months, we will collaborate with our allies to determine when, who, and how many planes will be delivered.”

Ukraine has repeatedly lobbied its Western allies for aircraft to aid in its conflict with Russia.

Before Saturday’s official announcement, President Zelensky stated that the aircraft would “substantially strengthen our air force.”

He anticipated “discussing the practical implementation” of the plan at the G7 summit in Hiroshima, where he arrived on Saturday.

At least shortly, the United States had been skeptical about providing Ukraine with modern fighter aircraft. Instead, it has focused on providing military support on land.

Some NATO members worry that sending jets to Ukraine will escalate the situation, risking a clash with Russia.

There are numerous air defense systems on the ground, and Russia’s large air force has struggled to achieve air superiority, so senior US military officials were initially skeptical about the ability of Western-supplied fighter jets to drastically alter the conflict.

In February, President Biden told reporters he was “ruling out for now” sending advanced fighters to Ukraine.

However, Mr. Sullivan told reporters that the United States had supplied Kyiv with weapons as required on the battlefield and that the decision to clear the way for fighter jets indicated that the conflict had entered a new phase.

“Now that we have delivered everything we promised to deliver, we have enabled the Ukrainians to advance on the battlefield through the counteroffensive. “The time has come to look into the future and determine what Ukraine will need as part of a future force to defend against Russian aggression,” he said.

Mr. Sullivan also indicated that any aircraft supplied to the Ukrainian government would only be used for defensive purposes and that the United States would neither facilitate nor support attacks against Russian territory.

“The Ukrainians have repeatedly indicated their willingness to carry out this commitment,” he said.

Although the change in US policy is significant, it will take time to train pilots to fly F-16 aircraft.

Ukraine has more fighter pilots than planes, but it can take four months to train veteran pilots on new aircraft.

Nations must also concur to provide the jets.

The US produces the F-16, which is used by various European and Middle Eastern nations.

The United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark all supported the U.S. initiative.

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak tweeted, “The United Kingdom will collaborate with the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark to give Ukraine the combat air capability it requires.”

The United Kingdom has no F-16s in its air force.

Denmark would train pilots but has not said if it will send jets to Ukraine. Approximately 30 of the 40 F-16s in the Danish air force are operational.

Mr. Sunak and the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced earlier this week that they would form an “international coalition” to provide fighter aircraft support for Ukraine.

Mr. Sunak stated that the United Kingdom would establish a flight school to educate Ukrainian pilots. French President Emmanuel Macron said his country will do the same but not provide planes.

Former NATO official Dr. Jamie Shea stated that the aircraft requires extensive maintenance after almost every battle, which has contributed to opposition to their deployment.

At the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Ukraine was believed to have approximately 120 combat-capable aircraft, primarily comprised of aging MiG-29s and Su-27s from the Soviet era.

Officials say they need 200 aircraft to match Moscow’s air power, which is five to six times stronger than Kyiv’s.

Mr. Zelensky has predominantly requested F-16s from its allies. The 1970s-built aircraft can engage ground or air targets at double the speed of sound.

Despite being replaced by the more modern F-35, it persists in widespread use. According to experts, modern fighters such as the F-16 would enable Ukraine to strike behind Russian lines.

Earlier this year, several Eastern European nations shipped MiG fighter aircraft from the Soviet era to Ukraine.

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