Biden rules out immediate supply of F-16 fighters to Ukraine: WH
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan says that F-16 is a question for a later time.
US President Joe Biden is presently ruling out providing Ukraine, after the latter's request, with F-16 fighter jets, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday.
"F-16 is a question for a later time and that is why President Biden said that for now he is not moving forward with those," Sullivan told CNN.
On Friday, Biden said the possibility of the US providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets was off the table "for now."
Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden seemed to be 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.
On another note, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak also commented earlier in February about whether his country intends to send the fighter jets to Ukraine, saying: "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.”
However, 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.
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.