On Tuesday, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat was quoted by the Ukrainska Pravda news website as saying that Kyiv needed up to 200 multi-role fighter jets – such as F-16s – to defend its skies.
He said that Russia currently outnumbered Ukraine by five to six times in terms of the number of war planes.
The US-made F-16s would be a significant upgrade on the Soviet-era fighting jets – mostly MiGs – Ukraine is currently using, which were made before the country declared independence from the USSR in 1991.
On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s spokesman said he was not aware of any formal request from Ukraine for aircraft, adding that “the UK’s Typhoon and F-35 jets are extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly”.
“Given that we believe it is not practical to send those jets to Ukraine.” Germany has also said it will not send fighter jets to Ukraine.
Biden’s comments come as Ukraine continues to push NATO to send fighter jets, a proposition that has yet to gain broad support from Ukraine’s western allies — though France and Poland have expressed an openness to sharing jets.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is widely considered one of the world’s most reliable fighter jets and is used by other countries, such as Belgium and Pakistan. It can be armed with precision-guided missiles and bombs and is able to fly at 1,500 mph (2,400 km/h), according to the US Air Force. The F-16’s targeting capabilities would allow Ukraine to attack Russian forces in all weather conditions and at night with greater accuracy.
Moscow has repeatedly accused Nato of being an aggressor by proxy, warning that further escalation could trigger a nuclear war.