Ukrainian forces would need at least 18 months to learn how to fly and maintain F-16 fighter jets in combat, a senior Pentagon official told US Congress on 28 February as the Biden administration continued to fend off questions about why a frequent request from Kyiv and, increasingly, some US politicians remains unfulfilled, The Washington Post reports.
As Ukraine continues to make regular public pleas for the planes, US President Joe Biden is ruling out for now sending the F-16s to Kyiv. At the same time, US lawmakers question why Ukrainian pilots are not in training to learn how they operate.
“I do think this conversation will continue,” Colin Kahl, the US undersecretary of defense for policy, explained to members of the House Armed Services Committee. In a best-case scenario, he said, older F-16s could be transferred within about 18 months, according to WP.
Kahl said purchasing and delivering new F-16s could take up to six years, adding that US Air Force personnel have assessed that about 80 jets are needed to upgrade Ukraine’s fighter aircraft fleet.
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