WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and a bipartisan group of senators led by U.S. Senator Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, asking him to quickly assess a range of factors necessary to successfully facilitate the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine.
“After speaking with U.S., Ukrainian, and foreign leaders working to support Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference last month, we believe the U.S. needs to take a hard look at providing F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. This would be a significant capability that could prove to be a game changer on the battlefield,” wrote the senators.
The senators are asking Secretary Austin about the potential operational impact of F-16s, the length of time it would take to assess and train Ukrainian pilots, how Ukraine would maintain the jets, and where the jets could be sourced from, among a number of factors.
“Putin has made a critical misjudgment, but at the same time, he shows no sign of acknowledging this and withdrawing from Ukraine. If anything, we expect additional Russian offensives this spring. In order to restore peace and security in Europe, the United States must continue working with our allies to continuously assess how we can best support Ukraine’s efforts and ensure Putin loses this war,” the senators added.
The letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).