Biden backs advanced fighter jets, pilot training for Ukraine


Published: 2023-05-20 11:08

Last Updated: 2023-06-02 00:48

Biden backs advanced fighter jets, pilot training for Ukraine
Biden backs advanced fighter jets, pilot training for Ukraine

US President Joe Biden told G7 leaders that Washington will support providing advanced warplanes including F-16s to Ukraine and will back efforts to train Kyiv's pilots, a senior White House official said Friday.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is set to attend the G7 summit in Japan, hailed the move on Twitter as a "historic decision," adding that he looked forward to "discussing the practical implementation" of the plan in Hiroshima.

Biden said the United States "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," the official said.

"As the training takes place over the coming months, our coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide when to actually provide jets, how many we will provide, and who will provide them."

The UK, Belgium and the Netherlands welcomed the decision.

"The UK will work together with the USA and the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark to get Ukraine the combat air capability it needs," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak tweeted, adding: "We stand united."

Momentum has been building for providing high-tech warplanes to Ukraine, but US support is key, as it legally has to approve the reexport of equipment purchased by allies, including F-16 jets.

Earlier this week, Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte pledged to build an "international coalition" to provide fighter jet support for Ukraine.

After visiting Sunak at his Chequers country estate outside London on Monday, Zelensky said he was "very positive" about creating a "jets coalition."

Sunak said Monday that the UK was preparing to open a flight school to train Ukrainian pilots, and French President Emmanuel Macron also offered to do so but ruled out sending warplanes to Kyiv.