Amid more and more talk about the battlefields in Ukraine being a West proxy war with Russia, there are some in the Pentagon now quietly pushing to send F-16 fighter jets to aid Ukraine’s defense.
The Biden administration sending M-1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine — and Germany sending Leopard tanks — has upped the ante. And with Ukraine reportedly running out of missiles to defend its skies, a Defense Department official fears Russia will send in the jets to overwhelm Ukraine, which will “will not be able to compete,” according to Politico.
“If they get [F-16] Vipers and they have an active air-to-air missile with the radar the F-16 currently has with some electronic protection, now it’s an even game,” the official told Politico.
F-16s carry air-to-air missiles to shoot down drones and missiles, providing a more dynamic and mobile defense than the Patriots and Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems already supplied to Ukraine, according to the report.
There is a contingent in the Pentagon who believe F-16s can help defend Ukraine, if not help move the conflict toward a resolution, sources told Politico.
“We need a strategy,” former National Security Adviser John Bolton told Newsmax‘s “Wake Up America” on Sunday in a prerecorded interview. “This piecemeal approach has prolonged the war and given Russia opportunities to avoid even greater defeat on the battlefield than it suffered in recent months.”
Ukraine has long had F-16s on its wish list, and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., famously urged President Joe Biden at the start of the war last February to “give the damn jets.”
“I don’t think we are opposed,” a senior DoD official told Politico.
Talks for sending jets are on a “fast-track,” a Ukrainian official said Saturday, but an adviser to the Ukrainian government said “nothing too serious” is on the table yet, according to the report.
While tanks might not arrive until the spring or summer, decisions on jets are going to take “weeks” to evolve.
“If we get them, the advantages on the battlefield will be just immense,” Yuriy Sak, adviser to Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, told Reuters.
“It’s not just F-16s: fourth generation aircraft, this is what we want.
Bolton told Newsmax on Sunday Russian MiGs are more immediately impactful for Ukraine, because their pilots already know how to fly them.
Training will take time, and Bolton has stressed beating back unprovoked Russian aggression has already taken too long.
The past holdup on sending jets was fear sparking nuclear retaliation from Vladimir Putin’s Russian forces, but Pentagon officials downplayed that.
“Let’s face it, a nuclear war isn’t going to happen over F-16s,” the DoD official told Politico, while a European official said F-16s “cannot be considered escalatory.”
“It’s simply part of the toolkit of having conventional weapons,” the official added.
While the U.S. is not in an active war with Russia, it continues to be drawn further into keeping up the support for Ukraine as a preemptive buffer from further Russia aggression.
“You can’t half-a** a war; Putin’s not,” Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., told Politico. “You’ve got to meet Putin armor for armor, weapon for weapon, because there’s already an extraordinary disadvantage in number of troops. Whatever works, whatever they need, send to them.
“My message when I first started talking about this is what were once vices are now habits. Everything we ever proposed was seen as escalatory.”
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.