Ukraine Will Likely Receive F-16 Fighters

The White House signaled this week its willingness to give the Ukrainian government American-made F-16 fighters. The advanced aircraft could have serious implications in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The official plan has not been confirmed, but President Joe Biden stated last week that the United States will aid its allies in training Ukrainian pilots of the aircraft. Furthermore, there has been considerable speculation about which country or countries would donate.

The U.S. has not indicated whether or not the fighter jets would be from American stockpiles.

A number of American allies utilize the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including countries that have donated arms to Ukraine. These include nations such as Poland and Romania.

Washington will help fund the training effort, Biden said at the G7 Summit last week. Furthermore, the Biden White House has signaled that this effort would take place in Europe and not in the United States. 

However, the U.S. would be a part of the program. Earlier this year, two Ukrainian pilots tested American flight simulators in Arizona to determine the length of time necessary to train them for American-made aircraft. 

The request for F-16s has continued for months, but in February Biden said that he was “ruling out” such an option “for now.” 

A Pentagon official said that the effort to train Ukrainian pilots would likely be shorted than previously anticipated. 

Early estimates were that it would take approximately 18 months to complete, though current estimates rate this at between six and nine months.

The potential transfer of F-16s also comes as other American and European-made weapons are making a difference on the battlefield.

Russia suffered some of its heaviest air losses since the war began recently. American-manufactured Patriot air defense systems most likely aided Ukraine in shooting down four Russian aircraft last week.

Two jets and two helicopters were shot down within Russian territory in short succession. Video of the crashes circulated on social media.

The shootdowns led to a dramatic night of Russian airstrikes on Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

The airstrikes last week were met with dueling accusations. Russia stated that it destroyed a Patriot air defense system, while American officials stated that the battery was likely damaged, but not destroyed.