Ukraine requested 128 F-16s from United States

1 March, 04:38 AM
F-16 (Photo:REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)

F-16 (Photo:REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)

Should Washington deiced to supply Ukraine with F-16 aircraft, it would take at least 18 months for them to be delivered, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Colin Kahl, said during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Feb. 28.

According to Kahl, the United States is not currently training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s because the process takes about as long as potential deliveries of the aircraft would – 18 months, meaning that starting training early doesn’t really save any time in that regard. Furthermore, there’s “no sense” for Ukraine to remain focused solely on F-16, as the country could ultimately receive European fighter jets like Tornado, Gripen, or Mirage.

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The official added that the newest variants of F-16 would take 3-6 years to integrate into Ukraine’s Air Force, while for older models the timeframe would remain below two years.

Kahl said that Ukraine previously made a request for 128 F-16 jets, but U.S. Air Force estimates Kyiv would need 50-80 such aircraft, “in long-term perspective.”

Finally, Kahl noted that even 36 older F-16s would cost $2-3 billion, meaning they would consume a significant portion of the funds Washington has allocated to support Ukraine throughout 2023. The United States is still assessing if it wouldn’t be more sensible to use these resources more effectively by delivering additional Bradley IFVs, 155mm artillery shells, GMLRS munitions, and other military equipment that Ukraine can put to use immediately.

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