If delivery is approved, it could take years to train Kiev’s pilots, the outlet says citing a top US air commander
If the US decides to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, it could take two to three years before Kiev could actually get them, Politico reports citing US Air Force general, James Hecker.
Hecker, who heads US Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa (USAFE-AFAFRICA) is said to have made the prediction during a speech on Monday at an annual Air Force Association conference.
According to Politico, Hecker put the delay down to logistical and training issues, but said he believed that Ukraine could get the US-made warplanes sometime in the future, because “folks are starting to think more long term.”
The outlet reported last week that the US government was considering sending F-16s and Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, expecting that the conflict with Russia would last for years.
Washington has stepped up its arms shipments throughout the conflict, eventually agreeing to provide multi-launch rocket systems, such as HIMARS, as well as long-range artillery platforms.
The US has been sending increasingly heavier weapons to Kiev, stating that it would provide military aid for as long as it takes to push Russian forces from every part of the territory that Ukraine claims under its sovereignty.
However, the Pentagon has so far refrained from sending some of its more sophisticated weapons, such as heavy armor or fighter jets, instead agreeing to facilitate transfers of Soviet-era equipment from third countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic.