US Air Force F-16 fighter planes take part in the US-led Saber Strike exercise over Estonia, June 6, 2018. Photo/REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
WASHINGTON – President of the United States (US) Joe Biden emphasized that American F-16 fighter jets must remain in the country and not be sent to Ukraine.
Earlier, he signaled Washington had no plans to send warplanes to Kiev amid the conflict with Moscow.
Speaking to reporters on the South Lawn of the White House on Monday (6/2/2023), Biden was asked to explain why he opposes the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine.
“Because we have to keep them here. That’s a completely different situation,” he replied, without elaborating.
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His remarks came after the US agreed last month to send 31 M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine, along with several Washington allies agreeing to send modern battle tanks as well.
Around the same time, however, Biden rejected the idea of sending F-16 fighter jets to Kiev.
His refusal, however, does not eliminate the possibility that Washington could approve the re-export of warplanes from other countries.
In an interview with the Financial Times last month, a senior executive with Lockheed Martin, which manufactures the F-16, said there had been a lot of talk about a third-party transfer of F-16s to Ukraine.
In an interview on Monday, Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak was asked whether Warsaw would hand over F-16 jets to Ukraine. He replied, “We have too few, only 48.”