Ukraine’s Allies Wrangle Over Sending F-16 Fighter Jets
And the U.S. official didn’t rule out the potential of the Biden administration issuing re-export licenses to European militaries, enabling them to switch their F-16s to Ukraine. Later Tuesday, after Britain and the Netherlands introduced their so-called “fighter coalition,” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and the Dutch international minister, Wopke Hoekstra, spoke by cellphone to discuss Ukraine and other issues.
Mr. Hoekstra stated on Wednesday that “we haven’t reached an answer but” in what one other senior European diplomat described as a slow-moving and troublesome dialogue.
“When we’re able to cross that bridge and are prepared to speak this, we are going to,” Mr. Hoekstra stated.
The Netherlands is one in every of 4 European international locations that the senior Ukrainian official stated have quietly signaled they’re able to ship F-16s to Kyiv. Its fleet, together with these of Denmark and Belgium, might present at the very least 125 combat-ready F-16s, in response to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British assume tank that assesses navy stockpiles globally. Norway, which retired its unspecified variety of F-16s final yr in a change to the extra superior F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, can also be able to contribute, the Ukrainian official stated.
Kyiv is asking — for now, at the very least — for under between 24 and 36, the official stated.
Earlier this week, the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, said the United Kingdom would begin coaching Ukrainian pilots, beginning this summer time, as a part of a plan “with different international locations on offering F-16 jets.” His announcement, wrapped in a brand new package deal of navy support, got here throughout a go to to London by President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
Without specific American approvals, nonetheless, the coaching is more likely to be restricted to what the senior Ukrainian official described as merely technical language and tactical classes that pilots could be taught, with out ever touching an F-16.
With its highly effective radar that may spot targets from a whole lot of miles away and fashionable missiles, the F-16 accommodates labeled and different extremely restricted programs that the United States doesn’t need duplicated or falling into hostile fingers. It is amongst lessons of weapons for which even allies should achieve “releasability” permission from the Pentagon simply to debate the know-how with outdoors companions, like Ukraine, a senior Defense Department official stated.