Biden Rejects Supplying F-16s To Ukraine


Credit: U.S. Air Force

U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to dismiss the possibility of directly providing Lockheed Martin F-16s to Ukraine with a terse, one-word response to a question on Jan. 30.

A reporter asked Biden outside the White House if the U.S. government would supply F-16s to Ukraine.

“No,” Biden replied, without elaborating. 

The White House has recently heeded Ukraine’s requests to supply tanks, agreeing to send the M1A2 Abrams battle tank in the future. And Biden’s administration helped pressure Germany to agree to send Leopard tanks to Ukraine in the near future. 

The moves encouraged some Ukrainian officials to resubmit long-standing requests for Western-built fighters to bolster a thinning inventory of Russian-made tactical aircraft. 

But Biden’s response indicates that U.S. policy on supplying fighters to Ukraine has not changed since the first weeks of Russia’s attempt to mount a large-scale, multifront invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year. 

Instead, U.S. policy has focused on supplying a succession of increasingly sophisticated, ground-based air defense systems to Ukraine, culminating with an agreement last month to transfer a Patriot battery. 

Unlike fighters, such air defense systems are not able to launch offensive attacks deep inside Russian territory, which might be viewed in Moscow as an escalatory move by Ukraine’s supporters in the West. 

But Biden’s response to a question about a direct supply of F-16s by the U.S. government may still keep other options open. A senior diplomat in the Netherlands has said that government would consider donating its own F-16s to Ukraine if asked. Poland also has considered transferring an aging inventory of MiG-29s to Ukraine either as fighters or as a supply of spare parts.

Steve Trimble

Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.


1 Comment
Joe didn't hear the question. What he thought was asked was did Burisma pay Hunter $16M. Doesn't matter, the "White House" will give the final decision.