A bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin urging that the US should take a “hard look” at sending F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv.
“After speaking with US, Ukrainian, and foreign leaders working to support Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference last month, we believe the US needs to take a hard look at providing F-16 aircraft to Ukraine,” the senators said in the letter.
The letter was led by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) and was also signed by Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tim Kaine of (D-VA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Ted Budd (R-NC).
Other NATO countries are ready to send fighter jets to Ukraine, including Poland, which is willing to send its Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets.
Sending the advanced fighter jets to Ukraine would mark a significant escalation of military aid and would bring the US and Russia another step closer to a direct clash. In March 2022, NATO officials said if the Western powers provided Ukraine with such aircraft, Russia could perceive the move as the alliance directly entering the war.
President Biden and other administration officials have ruled out sending F-16s to Ukraine “for now,” although the US is laying the groundwork for eventually sending them. Two Ukrainian pilots have arrived in the US to have their skills assessed to see how long it would take to train them on the F-16 and other US aircraft, a step the senators welcomed as a “critical step in gauging” their readiness to fly the plane.