At the G7 summit in Japan, US President Joe Biden announced that the US would provide Ukraine with advanced fighter jets, including US-made F-16s, and train pilots in how to use them. The decision has been hailed by Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, as historic, as Ukraine has long sought advanced jets. However, no government has confirmed that it will send any of its existing F-16 inventories to Kiev, and some NATO members remain concerned that handing over fighter jets to Ukraine could escalate the war and risk a direct confrontation with Russia.
The US is providing military support on land, and while the decision to provide fighter jets marks a new phase in the conflict, it will take time to train pilots to fly F-16s. Additionally, countries will have to agree to supply jets. F-16s are widely used in the US and many other countries, and the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark welcomed the US move. However, Denmark has not confirmed whether it will send jets to Ukraine.
Opponents of jet deployment have centered around maintenance issues, with some saying that extensive maintenance is required after nearly every battle. By the time the full-scale Russian invasion began, Ukraine was believed to have about 120 combat-capable aircraft, mostly aging Soviet-era MiG-29s and Su-27s. Officials say they need up to 200 jets to match Moscow’s air force.