Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has been calling on his Western allies for years to provide F-16s to his military. This, according to experts, would help his troops to combat the ongoing Russian invasion launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin's government in February 2022. Since then, Ukraine's allies provided Kyiv with billions of dollars worth of military aid. This has helped Kyiv to blunt Moscow's gains and allowed Ukrainian forces to retake Russian-occupied territory.
Joe Biden, however, refused to give Ukraine the F-16s due to concerns about training Ukrainian pilots and operating the jets. He also feared that their delivery might prompt a reaction from Russia. Moscow has condemned any delivery of weapons to Ukraine and warned the West previously against sending fighter jets.
Zelensky’s pleas have been answered after Biden told journalists at the G7 Summit that Western allies are making a “long-term” commitment to providing Ukraine F-16s. The plan calls for NATO countries to send the jets, while the U. S. helps train Ukrainian pilots.
He wrote that this move "demonstrates that the United States, and other NATO Allies, are committed to modernizing Ukraine’s Armed Forces on a long-term basis," meaning that it will be moving away from older Soviet-era weaponry.
"Ukraine is now adopting American-made and NATO-made weaponry across every major platform. It is moving away from the Soviet-era systems."The war has accelerated the transition, and it will continue for years to come until Ukraine's Armed Forces are among the best-armed in Europe," wrote he.
McFaul wrote that the complete transition may take decades. However, it will "integrate Ukraine deeper" into NATO - a major point with Russia - and give Ukraine "teeth" in order to deter future Russian aggressiveness.
Other experts have also commented on the impact of F-16s in the war in Ukraine. Former British Royal Air Force Senior Commanding Officer and Air Marshal Greg Bagwell told Newsweek that these weapons would offer Ukraine two benefits: the tactical perk of a more modern aircraft as well as enhanced weapons that can be integrated into their military.