OAN’s Geraldyn Berry
4:44 PM –Friday, May 19, 2023
According to a senior Biden administration official, the United States and its allies are intending to give Ukraine F-16 fighter planes. Additionally, they plan to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation aircrafts, such as F-16s. This comes as part of a long-term effort to bolster the nation’s security, even if the aircraft may not necessarily originate from the United States.
“Discussions about improving the Ukrainian air force reflect our long-term commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense,” the senior administration official said.
The official claimed that the planes will not be used for Ukraine’s impending counteroffensive against Russia.
“To date, the United States and our allies and partners have focused on providing Ukraine with the vast majority of the systems, weapons, and training it requires to conduct offensive operations this spring and summer. Discussions about improving the Ukrainian Air Force reflect our long-term commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense,” the official said.
On Friday, President Joe Biden informed the leaders of the major industrialized nations at the G7 Summit that the U.S. will fund efforts to educate Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.
It was reported that the U.S. and its allies “will decide when to actually provide jets, how many [to] provide, and who will provide them,” in the upcoming months.
A senior Biden administration official predicted that the training will take place solely in Europe and not in the U.S. However, the official stated that U.S. forces will take part in the training with friends and partners in Europe. The completion of it is anticipated to take several months. It is set to start “in the coming weeks.”
In March, two Ukrainian pilots were invited by the U.S. to a military installation in Tucson, Arizona, where they were tested in flight simulators to determine their proficiency and to determine how much time it would take them to become proficient in flying different US military aircraft, such as F-16s. For such training, the 2023 budget included funding set aside by Congress.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the president of Ukraine, has repeatedly requested that the United States provide F-16s, but Biden has so far rejected the demands. In a February interview with ABC News, Biden stated that U.S. military counsel indicated that Ukraine did not at the moment require F-16s.
“I’m ruling it out for now,” Biden said in the interview.
Senior Pentagon strategy official Colin Kahl, previously warned Congress that it may take “about 18 months” to train Ukrainian pilots for the F-16. Based on the pilots’ prior training and familiarity with fighter aircraft, some U.S. defense officials have stated that the training may be cut to only six to nine months.
Kahl had said that equipping Ukraine’s military with F-16 planes might cost up to $11 billion during his presentation before the House Armed Services Committee.
In a tweet, Zelenskyy, who is traveling to the G7 summit, expressed his appreciation for “the historic decision.”
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