US is preparing to donate F-15 and F-16 aircraft to Ukraine
WASHINGTON — Political circles in Washington are working on a donation of American F-15 and F-16 aircraft to the Air Force of Ukraine. $100 million were approved under the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA] 329-101 to train Ukrainian pilots on how to operate American aircraft. The money decision comes from the House of Representatives.
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There have been requests from Kyiv for the delivery of these aircraft since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24 this year. Logically, there was no way these requests would be met, even if Washington were desperate to donate the planes since Ukrainian pilots are trained to fly Sukhoi and MiGs, not technology developed west of Kyiv.
Most likely, the US will change the type of military equipment it will supply to Ukraine by the end of the year. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. talked to Kyiv and it was he who added the $100 million as an amendment to the defense authorization bill. Kinzinger says it is now clear to the whole world that when the war ends, Ukraine will be armed with Western weapons, and the training of Ukrainian pilots, which will logically lead to the delivery of American fighter jets, is a message to resolve the process.
To date, Ukraine has received very few Soviet-era aircraft. Bulgaria delivered Su-25s in parts via third countries, and Slovakia accepted the Czech Republic’s offer to defend Slovak airspace and donated its entire fleet of 12 MiG-29 fighters to Ukraine. Shortly after the start of the war, Poland was willing and ready to transfer its MiG-29s to the Ramstein base in Germany, but no agreement was reached between Washington and Warsaw.
Analysts of BulgarianMilitary.com say that attitudes in Washington support the delivery of American weapons, including combat aircraft. At the same time, however, US President Joe Biden’s administration is concerned that more Western technology in Ukraine means a greater chance of it falling into the hands of Russia, which can gain access to sensitive Western technology. The White House is also wary of crossing a “red line” and thus deliberately escalating hostilities beyond Ukraine’s borders.
According to US sources, the future training of Ukrainian pilots will most likely be carried out at two American bases – a base in Columbus, Mississippi, and one of the bases in Texas. However, whether the U.S. will train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-15s and F-16s, and whether Ukraine will receive Western planes, depends on the Senate, which in September will pass the amendments or its own version of the defense bill.
Before that, however, the House proposal must go through a conference committee, where it is unclear what changes it will undergo. If, however, Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. succeeds in pushing his ideas, Ukraine will send pilots to the US at the end of this year and the beginning of next year.
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