Biden insists on not sending F-16 jets to Ukraine
The US President's comments do not rule out any possibility of the US approval to send the F-16 fighter jets from other countries to Ukraine, such as Poland.
US President Joe Biden is determined to keep F-16 fighter jets in the US instead of sending them to Ukraine. During his briefing in the White House, when asked why he took that decision, Biden said without any further clarification: “Because we should keep them here. That’s a totally different situation,”
Although Biden says that Washington won't be sending F-16 fighter jets, the US already agreed to transfer 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine last month.
However, his comments do not rule out any possibility of the US approval to send the fighter jets from other countries to Ukraine, as a senior executive with Lockheed Martin told the Financial Times spoke of “a lot of conversation about third party transfer of F-16s” to Ukraine.
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Not a current possibility from Poland
Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak replied on Monday about whether his country intends to send the fighter jets to Ukraine: "we have too few of them, only 48", followed by a remark by Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki that delivery is possible if this is a “decision of the whole of NATO.”
But, Polish sources reported on February 1 that Poland's Deputy Defense Minister Marcin Ociepa said that supplying Kiev with F-16 fighter jets is currently not on the agenda, citing logistic issues. "As of today, this topic [shipping of F-16 to Ukraine] is not on the agenda, if we talk about operational activities and primarily about political decisions," Ociepa told Polish reporters.
"[Training pilots for F-16 jets would take] many months. If we shorten training, then I think it may take six months. But it will be in a very urgent mode. Normally, it will take more time," he added.
Politico said last month that US officials are reportedly more concerned with Ukraine's dwindling missile stockpiles for air defense systems at the moment. The DoD official involved in the discussions warned that if Ukraine ran out of its arsenal, Russia's advanced fighter jets would come to dominate the country's airspace and Kiev would "not be able to compete."
Meanwhile, some Pentagon officials argue that the Ukrainian forces have a more pressing need for "traditional" air defense systems — including Patriots and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) — rather than F-16s, which may "take months" to arrive.
On January 31, Biden stressed his first "no" to sending the jets to Ukraine.