F-16 isn’t free, Europe must give $4B for 20 Ukrainian F-16s – US

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Sending F-16s to Ukraine will cost money. This was made clear by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The statement was made during a press conference at the Pentagon on May 25. It was held immediately after the meeting of the contact group in Ukraine.

Photo by Eirik Helland Urke

It is about billions of dollars that the countries involved in military support for Ukraine must provide. General Milley did a quick calculation, saying that 10 F-16 fighter jets would cost those supporting Ukraine $2 billion. He stressed that just providing 10 fighter jets costs $1 billion, and maintaining those 10 costs another $1 billion.

There is still no clarity on which country will give Ukraine how many planes, the logic is simple: 20 F-16s will cost $4 billion, 30 F-16s will cost $6 billion, etc. Since the USA and European countries alone account for 90% of Ukraine’s aid, it is expected that these countries will provide the funding.

Who will pay?

It is unclear whether the US will step in with providing F-16s to Ukraine or with any funding. Experts suggest that Washington will only grant a license to re-export their F-16s to Ukraine. However, Mr. Austin said during his speech that “not every country has F-16s to donate or train Ukrainian pilots like the United States and other NATO countries.”

Photo credit: Wikipedia

Europe and NATO member countries will have to provide the training and provision of the aircraft, as well as the armament and maintenance. It has already become clear how much money it will cost European taxpayers, who support Ukraine with military aid, to provide 20 planes.

But Mr. Austin appealed not just to European countries but to “any country” that wants to support Ukraine but cannot donate or train pilots. “But they can provide monetary assistance,” he said.

Mr. Austin did not specify whether the US [Congress] would approve additional funding for the F-16 fighter jets. He said, “this is an international effort”.

Who will donate F-16s?

The decision on who to donate aircraft will be left to the partners, Pentagon officials said in a statement. I.e. Europe and non-European NATO member countries. Most likely, this decision will be made by the countries that have committed to train Ukrainian pilots.

Photo credit: SavunmaSanayiST.com

At this point, there are only guesses. Belgium is a country that can train Ukrainian pilots, but so far has not said whether it will participate by donating planes. Poland is one of the first countries to express its willingness to donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Norway has 12 deeply upgraded F-16 fighters in stock. They have been there for a year and a half and were supposed to be sold to a private military company. However, the US did not allow this sale, mainly because of the situation in Ukraine. Thus, it is assumed that Norway will be one of the countries that can send planes to Ukraine.

Denmark also intended to offer its aging F-16s to Argentina, but talks on a possible deal with Buenos Aires have gradually cooled. The Netherlands is the other European country that could send F-16s to Ukraine. There is talk about Turkey, but there it seems that the lenses will become much clearer after this Sunday when the second round of the presidential elections is held. Rumor has it that if current President Erdogan wins another term, Turkey has no intention of having any talks about sending F-16s to Ukraine.

How many F-16s will Ukraine get?

There is still no clarity regarding the number of F-16s in Ukraine. Experts and analysts comment that between 10 and 15 units are the most optimal amount that Ukraine can get. But this is of course in the realm of conjecture. The quantity may be increased to 20 units, but it is very difficult to believe that it will exceed them.

Photo by US Air Force/Senior Airman Erica Webster

In this regard, it seems that the number of F-16s for Ukraine will depend on the financing fund in question that Austin and Milley are talking about. In the current situation, it is probably easier to find fighters to donate than to finance their maintenance.

Not all countries in Europe or those outside Europe, but NATO members, have the financial ability to donate funds. At the same time, this issue deeply affects the pockets of citizens in these countries, and whether they will agree to such a donation remains in question.

General Milley’s opinion

General Milli is one of many, but one of the first officials, to express a negative opinion about donating F-16s to Ukraine. However, he does not question the qualities and combat capability of the F-16.

However, General Milley believes that these planes are not the key that will tip the scales or change the rules of war. A war that has already lasted over 460 days.

Photo credit: Afghan News

According to the American general, the F-16 “is not a magic weapon”. “There are no magic weapons — the F-16 isn’t one, or anything else,” Milley said. According to some experts, the F-16 may reduce some Russian flights, but missile attacks deep behind enemy lines will continue. A dogfight between F-16s and Russian MiG-29s, or Su-30s and Su-35s in Ukraine is entirely possible.


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