The Biden administration is facing a new and amplified pressure campaign to greenlight the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine, after the UK announced it will train Ukrainian fighter pilots and Kyiv ramped up its calls for the warplanes, Politico reports.
Despite the readiness of several European allies to provide Ukraine with F-16s, the Biden administration remains unconvinced about the necessity of these expensive jets, which are commonly used in modern military forces and require approval for transfer as they are American-made, “in part because the plane’s multimillion-dollar price tag would absorb too much of an already-dwindling pot of war funding,” according to The New York Times.
“While the administration has crossed several other red lines in military aid — approving everything from guided rockets to drones to Abrams tanks they once claimed would provoke Russia — the Biden administration is holding the line for now on the Lockheed Martin-made F-16s. But momentum may be building for Washington to do the next best thing: allow other countries that fly the F-16 to send their own jets to Ukraine,” Politico wrote.
Referring to an anonimous Ukrainian official, NYT says that Washington’s skepticism is so deep that Ukraine’s pilots are currently not even allowed to train on the F-16s that are owned by European states.
Dutch foreign minister Wopke Hoekstra said on 17 May after his phone conversation with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that “we haven’t reached a solution yet” regarding the so-called “fighter jet coalition.”
Politico says at this point, it does not appear that any European government has made a formal request to the US to send their fighter jets to Ukraine, but discussions on this matter are expected to intensify leading up to NATO’s upcoming summit in Vilnius, Lithuania in July.
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