Who needs tanks when you can have fighter jets?
Just hours after the U.S. announced that it will provide Ukraine with its M1 Abrams tanks, a top White House official admitted that there is an ongoing debate in Washington about providing Kyiv with fourth-generation F-16 fighters.
John Finer, the White House deputy national security advisor, said in an interview last week that the U.S. is “willing to consider” sending these jets to Ukraine and is “discussing this very carefully.”
Ukraine has been pushing for the U.S. to provide these fighters since the first Russian tank rolled into the country on 24 February.
Despite the scores of billions of dollars of weapons and aid sent to Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s minister of foreign affairs who said no country has done enough to help Ukraine, tweeted that Kyiv has “new tasks ahead,” and identified western fighter jets as a goal.
Ukraine: All We Need Are F-16s
Col. Yuriy Ihnat, the spokesman of the Air Force Command from Ukraine, said in July that two squadrons of 12 F-16s, and some reserves, would turn the tide of the war.
“To learn the first stage of takeoff and landing and flying from point A to point B, it will take a few weeks, but to learn how to fight on it, to learn how to use missiles, we will take around six months,” Ihnat told Air Force magazine.
John Kirby, National Security Council spokesperson, was asked about the possibility of providing these jets and said he cannot blame Kyiv for wanting “more and more systems.”
“It’s not the first time they’ve talked about fighter jets, but I don’t have any announcements to make on that front,” he said.
TREND FORECAST: There is a clear pattern emerging when it comes to how weapons are approved for Ukraine. The first step is Kyiv floats its hopes for a weapon, and the U.S. refuses. Then a “leak” emerges from the U.S. stating that Washington is considering the weapon, and Ukraine makes the request again—except it sells the urgency. Eventually, the U.S. agrees and Ukraine immediately states the next weapon it will need.
As we had forecast, no amount of weapons is ever enough for Ukraine, since Russia is, and will defeat them. Again, Russia has some 20 percent more Ukrainian territory than they had before their invasion and some 70 percent of Ukraine’s power and water infrastructure have been destroyed.
More War Machines
Ukraine’s foreign affairs minister Kuleba wants more weaponry. He recently said it is important that “we” remain honest with one another: “no one has done enough as long as Russian boots remain on Ukrainian ground. Arming our country for victory is the shortest way to restoring peace and security in Europe & beyond.”
Dmitry Polyanskiy, the first deputy permanent representative of Russia to the UN, took issue with the tweet, and responded, “Translation from Ukrainian: we have squandered our army again, give us more armies and we will continue to pretend that we are fighting Russia on our own. And don’t forget to sponsor our oligarchs’ luxurious life in Europe!”
France and the Netherlands are also considering Ukraine with fighter jets. France’s Rafale and Sweden’s Gripen are currently under consideration.
“When it comes to things that the Netherlands can supply, there are no taboos,” Wopke Hoekstra, the country’s foreign minister, said.
TREND FORECAST: President Joe Biden has insisted that the U.S. is not a participant in the war, even though it has provided Ukraine with some $115 billion in military weapons and aid. But the delivery of these F-16s would no longer hide the fact that the U.S. is actively engaged in the conflict, according to VK Thakur, a veteran Indian Air Force fighter pilot, who spoke with the Eurasian Times.
The F-16 is a supersonic fighter jet that can carry a 1.2 megaton B83 nuclear bomb, which WSWS noted is a key component of NATO’s “nuclear sharing” system in Europe.
Biden noted that these jets would have to operate with U.S. E-3 AWACS aircraft to make any kind of difference. These planes provide “situational awareness of friendly, neutral and hostile activity, command and control of an area of responsibility, battle management of theater forces, all-altitude and all-weather surveillance of the battle space, and early warning of enemy actions during joint, allied, and coalition operations,” the Air Force said.
“Without AWACS cover, Ukrainian F-16s will be cannon fodder for RuAF Su-30SM & Su-35 flying underground radar cover on 24×7 air dominance patrol over the frontline. The F-16s will be just another straw for Ukraine to clutch on in its terminal spiral down,” he said.
Russia could easily target these AWACS, which he said would be the start of WWIII.
Still, the war hawks in Congress are salivating for Russia’s defeat and destruction and are pushing for these fighters to be provided. These senators include Sheldon Whitehouse, Lindsey Graham, and Richard Blumenthal.
They said F-16s would help “erode” Moscow’s capability to continue fighting.
“While the tanks represent a tremendous upgrade in Ukraine’s military, we urge the Biden administration and our allies to send more long-range artillery, such as ATACMS, and fighter aircraft such as F-16s.”
“The combination of tanks, fighter aircraft, and ATACMS will help Ukraine confront the upcoming Russian offensive and go on the offensive in both the East and the South,” they said.
They said it is imperative that Ukraine receives everything it needs to win “now.”
The U.S. and other Western countries are growing bolder in their support for Ukraine because they believe that the Russian threat to use tactical nuclear weapons in the country is not high. Weapons like the Patriot air defense systems and M1 Abrams tanks were once considered a no-go but have since been approved. Ukraine also wants longer-distance ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles.
Even before the U.S. and Germany announced that they would provide Ukraine with tanks, it was almost a given.
The same can be said for fighter jets and reports say the U.S. has already identified the kind of fighter that it will provide. Lockheed Martin, the U.S.’s largest defense contractor, has already ramped up its production of the aircraft.
Frank St John, the CEO of the company, told the Financial Times that these new F-16s will be able to “backfill pretty capably any countries that choose to do third-party transfers to help with the current conflict.”
He said there has been “a lot of conversation about third-party transfer of F-16s.”
Indeed, ArmyINFORM, an information arm of the Ukrainian military, has already said that Ukrainian fighter pilots are training on these fighters in the U.S., WSWS reported. A Ukrainian ministry of defense official said, “Our military pilots went to the United States, funds were allocated for the training of our pilots.”
The training has been going on for months, according to the report.
Yuriy Sak, an advisor to Oleksiy Reznikov, Ukraine’s defense minister, told CNBC flatly: “We will get F-16s.”
Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force, spoke at the Aspen Security Conference and was asked by a reporter if the U.S. would provide U.S. fighter platforms.
Brown replied, “[I]t’ll be something non-Russian, I could probably tell you that.”
Lt. Gen. David A. Deptula, dean of AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said Ukraine will lose the war if it does not find “a replacement fighter force of Western origin in the coming months” because it will lose the ability to defend its airspace and support its ground forces, and without control of their airspace they will lose.”