US military officials are “quietly pushing” the Department of Defense to greenlight the delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help in the fight against Russia, Politico reported, citing sources.
So far, no countries have provided Kiev with modern Western-made warplanes, despite repeated requests.
According to one Pentagon official and two other sources familiar with the matter interviewed by the outlet, the campaign inside the Department of Defense to send the aircraft to Ukraine is “gaining momentum”. Optimism has been partly spurred by the recent decision to send M1 Abrams tanks and Patriot air defense systems to Kiev, the report says.
Referring to potential F-16 deliveries, a senior DOD official told the outlet, “I don’t think we are opposed”, while noting that a final decision has not been made. Kiev has yet to insist that fighter jets are the top priority, the official added, explaining that the US is focused on helping Ukraine meet its more immediate needs.
One Politico source said that it could take the US “weeks” to make a decision on either sending its own jets to Ukraine, or approving the re-export of F-16s from other countries.