A senior Biden administration official confirmed the move to the Messenger, but clarified that the announcement does not mean Washington will send its own F-16s to Ukraine. The aircraft will come from several European countries that have it in their respective arsenals.
Meanwhile, another person familiar with the discussions told POLITICO that Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands all have surplus F-16s that could be donated to Ukraine. That person added that the F-16s have been freed up for this endeavor as all three nations are upgrading to the F-3 fighter jet.
Biden himself announced the move during the May 19 summit of the Group of Seven (G7) at the city of Hiroshima in Japan. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lauded the U.S. leader's decision in a tweet.
"I welcome the historic decision of the U.S. and [Biden] to support an international fighter jet coalition," the Ukrainian leader wrote. "This will greatly enhance our army in the sky."
Biden's decision followed similar announcements by London and Amsterdam to set up an international coalition to help Kyiv obtain the jets. Kajsa Ollengren, the Dutch defense minister, also indicated her nation's support after news of Biden's announcement was published.
"We welcome the upcoming approval by the U.S. of the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets," she tweeted. "Together with our close allies – Denmark, Belgium and the U.K. – we are working on the modalities. We stand ready to support Ukraine on this."
The training program sponsored by the U.S. and its allies will reportedly take place at a European site outside Ukraine and begin within weeks, POLITICO reported. Back in March, the U.S. brought two Ukrainian pilots to Arizona to assess their flying skills on fighter jets. Military personnel evaluated the pilots' flying and mission-planning capabilities on aircraft simulators.
Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials have urged allied nations to provide Kyiv with more sophisticated Western aircraft to augment air defenses and offensive operations. The Ukrainian government said F-16 jets could perform a variety of roles – including assisting in shooting down Russian missiles and drones bound for the capital and protecting grain shipments passing through the Black Sea. (Related: After securing new tanks from US and Germany, Ukraine now demanding F-16 fighter jets to combat Russia.)
However, officials at the U.S. Department of Defense argued that F-16s were not yet necessary for the immediate fight. They have also noted that it could take up to a year or more to complete the required training to fly the aircraft.
Moreover, officials are also worried that the jets could be used to hit targets inside Russia – further escalating the conflict. Some officials have questioned the role of F-16s in the bigger offensive given the Russian ground-to-air threat.
Until the May 19 announcement, Biden faced mounting pressure to agree to the use of F-16s based in other countries – if not provide advanced American fighter jets to Ukraine. According to a senior White House official, Biden's decision will "further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force."
In February, ABC News anchor David Muir asked Biden if he thought Zelensky needed F-16s. "No, he doesn't need F-16s now," the president said at the time. The recent decision was a complete 180 from Biden's earlier stance.
This wasn't the first time the White House changed its decision over the issue of sending military aid to Kyiv. Prior to fighter jets, the Biden administration changed its mind and deployed M1 Abrams battle tanks to Ukraine. The Messenger also noted that it was also the same case with America's decision to send Patriot missile interceptors to the country.
Head over to MilitaryTech.news for more stories about U.S. military aid to Ukraine.
Watch this footage of a Russian SU-35 fighter jet in action, which is the reason why the Ukrainians need F-16s.
This video is from the Cynthia's Pursuit of Truth channel on Brighteon.com.