Both partisan senators press Austin to send F-16s to Ukraine

Date:

Both partisan senators press Austin to send F-16s to Ukraine

  • News by AUN News correspondent
  • Wednesday, March 15, 2023
  • AUN News – ISSN: 2949-8090

Summary:

  • “We believe the U.S. ought to take a hard look at delivering F-16 aircraft to Ukraine,” the senators wrote. “

  • This would be an enormous capacity that could turn the tide on the fight,” the author said.

  • The senators asked Austin to give them estimates of several aspects necessary for successfully transferring F-16s to Ukraine by the end of the week.

  • The White House’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan and Vice President Joe Biden disagree, arguing that fighters aren’t as urgently needed on the battlefield as other tools.

  • “The Senate letter comes after a cross-party campaign in the House, led by Maine Democrat Jared Golden, to persuade Biden to send F-16s or similar aircraft to Kyiv.

“We believe the U.S. ought to take a hard look at delivering F-16 aircraft to Ukraine,” the senators wrote. “After speaking with U.S., Ukrainian, and foreign leaders working to support Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference last month,” they said. “This would be a big capacity that could turn the tide on the fight,” the author said.

The senators asked Austin to give them estimates of several aspects necessary for successfully transferring F-16s to Ukraine by the end of the week.

The M.P.s’ inquiries included how highly Ukrainian officials value fighter jets when requesting weaponry and how the F-16s might be obtained, should their approval be granted, from either newly manufactured sources or existing inventories. Additionally, they wanted the military’s assessment of the conflict’s potential impact on F-16s and the speed at which Ukrainian pilots could receive F-16 training.

The group applauded reports that two Ukrainian pilots arrived in the U.S. to evaluate their fighter skills at Kelly’s home state’s Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, which they called an “important step in assessing” their capability to operate an F-16.

Republicans Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and Ted Budd of North Carolina joined Democrats Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Tim Kaine of Virginia, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, and Jacky Rosen of Nevada in signing the letter.

Bipartisan efforts have been strengthened by evaluations such as those of Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Europe, to persuade the Biden administration to send F-16s or facilitate other nations sending them to Ukraine. During the Munich Security Conference last month, Cavoli told parliamentarians in private that providing sophisticated weapons—like F-16s and long-range missiles—could strengthen Ukraine’s defences.

The White House’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan and Vice President Joe Biden disagree, arguing that fighters aren’t as urgently needed on the battlefield as other tools.

Colin Kahl, the head of Pentagon policy, also defended the administration’s position, telling the House Armed Services Committee last month that the production of newer jets could take three to six years to deliver. In contrast, the most optimistic timeline for delivering older F-16s would be about 18 months.

Although it’s not one of their top three objectives, “it is a priority for the Ukrainians,” Kahl said in court. “Air defence systems, artillery and fires, which we have discussed, and armour and mechanised systems, are their top priority.”

The Senate letter comes after a cross-party campaign in the House, led by Maine Democrat Jared Golden, to persuade Biden to send F-16s or other similar aircraft to Kyiv.

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