F-16s Won’t Make it to Ukraine Any Time Soon, Says Pentagon

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Advanced Western fighter jets won’t make it to Ukraine in time to be felt in the long-discussed Spring offensive, says the U.S., saying the F-16 was more about ‘long term’ defence.

Several European nations have started talking about training Ukrainian pilots in operating modern NATO jets with an eye to qualifying them on the F-16 platform in recent days since the United States appeared to cautiously green-light the donation of the fighter to Kyiv. But its deployment won’t be any time soon, the Pentagon has said, with no chance of Western jets playing a role in the long-trailed but yet to emerge Ukrainian Spring counter-offensive.

Pentagon Spokesman Brigadier General Patrick Ryder made the remarks in response to a barrage of F-16 questions this week, replying that far from being imminent, the F-16s for Ukraine are “about the long-term commitment to Ukraine. These F-16s will not be relevant to the upcoming counteroffensive.”

The Brigadier said he wasn’t aware that any training of Ukrainian pilots on NATO aircraft had yet begun, and that it wasn’t likely to start for “weeks or months” to come. In terms of actually supplying aircraft — the United States at this moment doesn’t seem likely to actually directly give Ukraine F-16s, buit will allow European allies to give from their own, considerably smaller, stocks — Ryder said they were still at the talks stage and no timelines had yet been decided.