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F-16s Won't Bring Significant Change to Ukraine's War Effort, USAF Secretary Affirms

F-16s Won’t Bring Significant Change to Ukraine’s War Effort, USAF Secretary Affirms

Biden’s decision to start training Ukrainian pilots on the jet is more about setting up Kyiv’s long-term capabilities, Kendall said.

The U.S. Air Force Secretary stated that deploying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine would not bring about a “fundamental change” in the ongoing conflict. Frank Kendall, speaking at a Defense Writers Group event, explained that while the addition of F-16s would provide the Ukrainians with increased capabilities, it would not have a drastic impact on their overall military strength.

President Biden’s recent announcement to support Ukrainian pilot training on F-16s and other modern jets aims to enhance Kyiv’s potential to utilize these aircraft if they were to be donated.

Kendall did not rule out the possibility of sending U.S. F-16s to Ukraine in the future, but emphasized that the details are yet to be determined.

Since the Russian invasion, manned and unmanned aircraft have been active in Ukrainian airspace daily. However, airpower has not played a decisive role due to the inability of either side to gain control of the skies. Kendall noted that both parties have utilized aircraft for limited operations, hindered by the effectiveness of ground-based air defenses on both sides.

When questioned about the timing of providing F-16s, Kendall stated that the U.S. has been focused on supplying weapons and equipment that would make the most significant difference on the battlefield.

Furthermore, Kendall acknowledged that sending fighter jets could be perceived as an escalatory measure. Even if fighter jets were donated, it would still take several months to deliver them to Ukraine.

Kendall believes that the decision to train pilots to operate modern fighters is part of Ukraine’s long-term strategy in the conflict. As an independent nation, Ukraine will require a comprehensive set of military capabilities, prompting the need to consider its future military composition.

While Ukrainian pilots are accustomed to flying Soviet-era aircraft, Kendall expressed confidence that they can be trained on modern aircraft within a few months. He commended the Ukrainians’ motivation and their determination to contribute to the fight and make a difference.

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