The Biden administration has signaled to European allies in recent weeks that the US would allow them to export F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, sources familiar with the discussions said, as the White House comes under increasing pressure from members of Congress and allies to help Ukraine procure the planes amid intensifying Russian aerial attacks.
Administration officials are not aware, however, of any formal requests by any allies to export F-16s, and State Department officials who would normally be tasked with the paperwork to approve such third-party transfers have not been told to get to work, officials said.
A handful of European countries have a supply of the US-made F-16s, including the Netherlands, which has signaled a willingness to export some of them to Ukraine. But the US would have to approve that third party transfer because of the jets’ sensitive US technology.
While the US remains reluctant to send any of its own F-16s to Kyiv, US officials told CNN that the administration is prepared to approve the export of the jets to Ukraine if that is what allies decide to do with their supply. [Continue reading…]
Michael Weiss and James Rushton report:
Yahoo News has exclusively obtained an internal U.S. Air Force assessment that concludes it would take only four months to train Ukrainian pilots to operate American-made F-16 fighter jets, a far shorter time frame than what has been repeatedly cited by Pentagon officials.
The document, which was shared with a number of NATO allies who fly F-16s, contains a detailed assessment undertaken in late February and early March at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz., home to the 162nd Wing of the U.S. Air Force. Two Ukrainian airmen, one qualified on the MiG-29, the other on the Su-27, were given “no formal training” on the F-16, according to the assessment, other than a brief familiarization. They were then tested on a flight simulator, conducting “9 simulator events covering 11.5 total hours.” [Continue reading…]