‘Birds in a cage’? Logistical challenges on cards when Ukraine gets F-16s
In a major U-turn, President Joe Biden said on Friday the US will back giving Ukraine advanced fighter jets including F-16s – days after Britain and the Netherlands promised an “international coalition” to send Kyiv the US-made jets it has long demanded. But analysts warn this will be an immense logistical challenge – from ensuring Ukraine has weapons to carry on the planes to ensuring their delivery does not escalate the conflict beyond Ukraine's borders.
After months of Ukrainian demands for F-16s as Kyiv plans its counteroffensive against Russia, the US finally gave the green light as Biden attended the G7 summit in Japan – a move President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed as a “historic decision”.
Biden said the US "will support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s, to further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force", a senior White House official told AFP.
This marks a quite a U-turn from Washington’s refusals to give Ukraine F-16s. The Biden administration has feared that Kyiv could use the jets to strike targets on Russian soil, thereby dangerously escalating its conflict with a country boasting the world’s largest nuclear weapons arsenal.
But the US has always been keen to balance full-throated support for Ukraine with prudence about escalation – and wariness about the risks is unlikely to go away after Biden’s U-turn.
Read more on FRANCE 24 English
UK, Netherlands call for 'international coalition' to supply fighter jets to Ukraine
A small step across the Dnipro River, a giant leap for Ukraine’s counteroffensive?
UK promises attack drones, missiles for Ukraine as Zelensky visits Sunak