The Joe Biden administration believes it is important to get F-16s to the Ukrainian military and estimates the warplanes could arrive around the end of the year. Although, the White House does not assess the F-16s will alter the course of the war.
National security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said at the Aspen Security Forum Washington is trying to rush the delivery of F-16s to Kiev. "We are going to push as fast as possible," he said.
A spokesperson for the National Security Council, John Kirby, told Fox News on Thursday that the White House believes that date will be around the end of the year. "Now look, the F-16s will get there probably towards the end of the year," he explained.
A coalition of 11 countries have come together to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 and provide Kiev with several planes. Washington has signed off on transferring the war planes to Ukraine.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he expects the training to begin in about a month and F-16s to arrive after the first of the year. “Training should start sometime in August, maybe at the beginning of September. Simultaneously, legal decisions necessary for the transfer of the aircraft and the aircraft themselves will be prepared," he explained. "I think that if Ukrainian pilots fly the first F-16s in Ukrainian airspace by the end of the first quarter of next year."
Kirby went on to say that F-16s will not change the course of the war and stressed Ukraine’s need for other weapons systems. "But it’s not our assessment that the F-16s alone would be enough to turn the tide here." He continues, Kiev needs “the four As: artillery, ammunition, air defense and armor – tanks.”
Defense officials told CNN on Tuesday that the US is nearly out of weapons and ammunition to send to Ukraine. At a conference in London last week, Gen. James Hecker explained the arms shortage will not be resolved soon. "[NATO is] dreadfully below where we need to be," he said. And it’s probably not going to get better – well, it’s not in the short term – but we’ve got to make sure in the long term we have the industrial base that can increase what we have."
Even with Ukraine lacking air power, ammunition and conventional artillery rounds, the Biden administration is pressing Kiev to push its counteroffensive. Officials in the US and Ukraine admitted the six weeks of operations have been less successful than hoped and Kiev’s forces have suffered substantial losses. American officials believe Ukraine’s counteroffensive "has generated concerns in the West that the government of President Volodymyr Zelensky may not deliver as powerful a blow as it could," according to the Washington Post.