After securing Western tanks to defend against Russia’s invasion, Ukraine already knows it wants F-16s and other fighter jets next, an adviser to its defense minister said Wednesday.
“The next big hurdle will now be the fighter jets,” Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov, told Reuters in an interview.
“If we get them, the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense. … It’s not just F-16s. Fourth-generation aircraft, this is what we want.”
His comment came as President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. would for the first time send 31 sophisticated M1 Abrams tanks to aid Ukraine’s war effort. The same day, Germany confirmed it’s sending its own Leopard 2 tanks into the war following weeks of debate over the latest escalation in weaponry.
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“They didn’t want to give us heavy artillery, then they did. They didn’t want to give us HIMARS systems, then they did. They didn’t want to give us tanks, now they’re giving us tanks. Apart from nuclear weapons, there is nothing left that we will not get,” Sak said.
The F-16 is a powerful fighter jet, capable of flying twice the speed of sound and acquiring targets in all weather conditions, according to the Air Force. The Ukrainian Air Force, which has a fleet of aging Soviet-era jets, also pleaded for F-16s and other modern jets in April.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Western military aid has steadily increased. As the latest escalation — tanks from several countries — was being finalized, a top diplomat in the Netherlands said the country would consider an F-16 request with an “open mind,” NL Times reported.
This was a breaking news story. The details were periodically updated as more information became available.