Ukraine To Receive F-16s By End Of Year, Kirby Says

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by Tyler Durden
Friday, Jul 21, 2023 - 11:20 PM

Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council John Kirby suggested in a Fox News interview Thursday that Ukraine could received US F-16 fighter jets way ahead of schedule. 

"Most likely, the F-16s will arrive in Ukraine before the end of the year. However, we do not believe that F-16s alone can alter the situation on the battlefield," Kirby said.

The F-16 can carry the B-61 tactical nuclear bomb.

Very likely, training for Ukrainian pilotswhich hasn't even begun yet (at least officially) given NATO press statements have indicated the Denmark-bases training program is set to begin in Augustwon't be complete by then.

Top Zelensky officials, including the Ukrainian president himself, have pleaded for more advanced weaponry to arrive on the battlefield sooner. Amid what's increasingly acknowledged in mainstream press as a failing counteroffensive, Ukraine's military leaders have urged 'superiority of the skies'

But it's clear that Kirby has downplayed that even Western fighter jets will be a major game-changer. He also emphasized in the interview that the most immediate need remains greater amounts of artillery ammunition, given especially the superior supplies which the Russians possess.

Kirby listed out what he called the "four A's"... as "artillery, ammunition, air defense and armor—tanks."

Ukrainian media too has begun to acknowledge that Western fighters may have little impact on the overall negative course of the counteroffensive:

A week ago, Lieutenant General Douglas Sims said that conditions for a transfer of F-16s are not "ideal." He stressed that Russians still have air defense capability, hinting that the number of jets that can arrive will not change the course of the counteroffensive.

President Putin and Kremlin officials have said West-supplied jets will "burn" just like other foreign equipment. They've also warned that NATO is "playing with fire" in approving them for the Ukrainians.

Initially, F-16s are expected to be sent "likely from European countries that have excess F-16 supplies" - according to the prior words of Jake Sullivan from the NATO summit in Vilnius last week.

Russian foreign minister Lavrov has in the meantime underscored that the F-16s are capable of carrying tactical nuclear weapons, and so will be treated by Russian forces as such.

"We have informed the nuclear powers – the US, UK and France – that Russia can’t ignore the ability of these aircraft to carry nuclear weapons," the foreign minister said earlier this month. "No assurances [by the West] will help here," he warned. In the midst of fighting, the Russian military isn’t going to investigate whether any specific jet is equipped to deliver nuclear weapons or not," he added.

"The very fact of the appearance of such systems within the Ukrainian Armed Forces will be considered by us as a threat from the West in the nuclear domain," Lavrov warned.