The Biden administration has signaled to European allies in recent weeks that the America will allow them to export F-16 fighter jets For Ukraine, sources familiar with the discussions said. It comes as the White House faces mounting pressure from members of Congress and allies to help Ukraine buy the planes amid intensifying Russian airstrikes.
However, administration officials are not aware of formal requests by any allies to export F-16s, and State Department officials are generally tasked with the paperwork to approve such third-party transfers. Turns out, the officers have not been asked to report to work. Said.
A handful of European countries have supplies of US-made jets, including the Netherlands, which has indicated a willingness to export some of them to Ukraine. But the United States would have to approve third-party transfers because of the jets’ sensitive American technology.
While the US has been reluctant to send any of its F-16s to Kiev, US officials told CNN that the administration is prepared to approve the export of the jets to Ukraine if the allies decide to do so with their own supplies. .
Ukraine’s top officials have stepped up their public lobbying campaign for US-made F-16s in recent months, arguing they urgently need them to defend against Russian missile and drone attacks.
looking ahead: Officials said the issue is expected to be a topic of debate at the next NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, in July.
Another open question is where Ukrainian pilots will train on these F-16s. A spokesman for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said earlier this week that the UK and the Netherlands wanted to form an “international alliance” not only to procure the jets for Ukraine but also to train Ukrainian pilots.
In March, the US ordered two Ukrainian pilots to evaluate their skills using flight simulators at a military base in Tucson, Arizona, and the amount of time they would need to learn to fly various US military aircraft, including the F-16. hosted. But the US has no plans so far to expand that training, a defense official told CNN, despite Congress setting aside money in a 2023 budget.
of CNN Zachary Cohen contributed reporting to this post.