A group of senior military officials are silently pushing the Pentagon to approve sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Ukraine has been calling for fighter jets since the beginning of the war as Zelenskyy says they are needed to defend Russian missile and drone attacks. Now, merely days after approving sending tanks to Ukraine, reports state that the U.S. military may be about to supply the F-16 fighter jets. For most of the war, Washington has viewed artillery, armor and ground-based air defense systems as appropriate equipment to send to Ukraine to protect civilian infrastructure and counter Russian attacks. But now, as Ukraine prepares to launch a counter offensive in the spring, a movement inside the Pentagon to send fighter jets is growing.
A senior defense official told Politico that “I don’t think we are opposed,” to sending F-16s but no final decision has been made. A top Ukrainian official also said on Saturday that Western allies are engaged in “fast-track” talks on possibly sending both long-range missiles and military aircraft.
“If we get them, the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense. … It’s not just F-16s: fourth generation aircraft, this is what we want,” Yuriy Sak, who advises Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov, told Reuters.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment on the topic recently but did say the U.S. would be discussing fighter jets “very carefully” with Kyiv.
“We have not ruled in or out any specific systems,” Finer said on MSNBC Thursday.
“We have nothing to announce regarding F-16s,” said a DOD spokesperson. “As always, we’ll continue to consult closely with the Ukrainians and our international Allies and partners on Ukraine’s security assistance needs to enable them to defend their country.”