US Blocks F-16 Fighter Jet Training for Ukrainian Pilots, Here's the Reason!

US Blocks F-16 Fighter Jet Training for Ukrainian Pilots, Here's the Reason!
US Blocks F-16 Fighter Jet Training for Ukrainian Pilots, Here's the Reason!

Washington - The United States (US) has banned its European allies from providing F-16 fighter jet training to Ukrainian pilots. This was reported by the New York Times (NYT), citing a high-ranking official in Kiev. "Without approval from Washington, the best that Ukrainian airmen can hope for is a lesson in technical language and tactical training in the field."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pressing his Western backers for the fourth-generation F-16 fighter for months. He said they were critical to defending the country's airspace amid a massive Russian missile campaign targeting military facilities and energy infrastructure.

The Ukrainian leader appeared to be making limited progress during his recent European tour, with Britain and the Netherlands announcing they would work to build an "international coalition" to provide Kiev with everything from training to procuring F-16 jets.

The UK announced that training would start this summer, while Zelensky's office claims that Belgium also wants to help prepare Ukrainian pilots. An unnamed Ukrainian official told the NYT that four countries, including the Netherlands and Norway, have "quietly signaled" that they are ready to supply Ukraine with fighter aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin.

"The F-16 fighter jet contains classified technology and Washington's allies have to get special 'release' clearance from the Pentagon to even discuss it with outside partners like Ukraine," a senior US Department of Defense official explained to the paper.

Another American official told the NYT that US President Joe Biden's administration is sticking to its stance not to send its own F-16s to Kiev. Washington is said to be concerned that the expensive jets will absorb too much of the funds earmarked by the US to aid Kiev, and in any case the planes will not reach the battlefield in time for the long-anticipated Ukrainian counteroffensive.

However, the source did not rule out the possibility that the White House may eventually issue F-16 re-export licenses to European allies, which would allow them to supply the aircraft to Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that the delivery of more sophisticated weapons to Ukraine by the US and its allies could cross 'red lines', leading to a major escalation in hostilities. Russia argues that its provision of weapons, intelligence sharing and training to Kiev's forces already means that Western nations are de facto parties to the conflict.

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