Group of Pentagon Officials Secretly Lobbying Sending F-16 Jets to Ukraine: Reports

Group of Pentagon Officials Secretly Lobbying Sending F-16 Jets to Ukraine: Reports

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A group of US military officials is quietly lobbying for sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, US media reported, citing three anonymous sources familiar with the matter.

According to the newspaper, the campaign for F-16s to Ukraine is gathering momentum in the Pentagon while Kiev is bracing for a planned offensive this spring.

A senior Pentagon official told US media that he did not think the US Department of Defense was opposed to the idea, stressing that there was no final decision on the possible supplies yet. Meanwhile, Ukraine should clearly indicate that F-16 fighter jets are "its top priority," the source said, Sputnik reported.

It may take weeks for the United States to make a decision on such deliveries, another source said, adding that the fighter jets would have to be sourced from the country's own reserves or reexported from other countries.

However, US officials are reportedly more concerned with Ukraine's dwindling missile stockpiles for air defense systems at the moment. The newspaper's source said that if Ukraine ran out of its arsenal, Russia's advanced fighter jets would come to dominate the country's airspace and Kiev would "not be able to compete." Therefore, modern fighter jets could "solve this problem," US media said.

Meanwhile, some Pentagon officials argue that the Ukrainian forces have a more pressing need for "traditional" air defense systems — including Patriots and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) — rather than F-16s, which may "take months" to arrive, according to US media.

Even though Washington has not yet decided on the deliveries of fighter jets, Ukraine has already compiled a list of some 50 pilots, who are ready to start training on F-16s, speak English and have a track record of "thousands of combat missions," the newspaper said.

On Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced that the German armed forces would give Ukraine 14 Leopard 2 battle tanks from their own warehouses but rejected Kiev's call for jets, saying he did not want the Ukrainian conflict to turn into an armed standoff between Russia and NATO.

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