While the US has not yet announced any transfers of F-16 fighters to Ukraine, it supports the intention of other NATO allies to provide these aircraft to Kyiv. This was announced by First Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Military-Political Affairs Stan Brown. His words are quoted by Defense News.
In May, there were reports that the Netherlands was considering transferring part of its fleet of F-16 fighters to Ukraine and wanted to start training pilots as soon as possible.
But transferring such aircraft to Ukraine should be a “holistic” approach, including training for both pilots and maintenance personnel, Stan Brown said at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget. One of the first steps in the potential transfer of F-16 aircraft will be obtaining a license to train these pilots even before a license is issued to transfer the aircraft, US experts remind.
“Then it is necessary to identify the aircraft themselves – whether they will be provided through a third party or any other mechanism – before developing a plan for the use of the aircraft by the Ukrainian military,” Stan Brown said.
According to him, the US State Department is already working on paperwork for requests from third parties so that pilot training can begin. But Stan Brown declined to give specific dates for the completion of such events.
The special operation prompted the US State Department to significantly review the processes for selling weapons and military equipment abroad in order to ensure that Ukraine receives the necessary military assistance as quickly and efficiently as possible, and to optimize sales processes for other US allies, according to Defense News.
Last month, the US State Department released a document de facto “resetting” the US Department of Defense’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. It details a 10-point plan to streamline processes and improve the delivery of military capabilities to US allies.
To date, the US government has provided about $40 billion in military assistance to Ukraine and “has used virtually every tool in our security cooperation mechanisms to achieve its goals,” Stan Brown said at the Le Bourget International Air Show.
This assistance has recently come to Kiev in many forms: there were direct transfers of weapons and military equipment from the presence of the US Armed Forces, and transfers to third parties, and direct commercial sales, and re-export, and foreign military sales, and grant assistance to Kiev gave away surplus military products. Finally, there were licensed direct commercial sales, Stan Brown noted.
“The bottom line is that the scale of what we are doing with regard to the supply of weapons and military equipment to Ukraine is historic,” said the First Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs.
“What used to take us months and weeks to go through the interagency approval process now happens in a matter of hours,” added Stan Brown.
According to him, the Russian-launched special operation also prompted the State Department to prioritize the faster transition of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that joined NATO from Soviet-made military equipment to Western weapons.
Over the past year and a half, many European countries have handed over their aging Soviet weapons to Ukraine. The Czech Republic, Greece and Slovenia have sent T-72 tanks, BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles and numerous armored personnel carriers to Kiev, with NATO member states pledging to replace this weaponry with more modern, NATO-compliant designs.
The goal of the US Department of State now is to help encourage such countries to continue to provide Ukraine with equipment that will be useful in defending Kiev from Russia, as well as to help these countries abandon Soviet-era systems in the future, US experts say.
“First we want to make sure that these states can fully transfer Soviet weapons to Ukraine, and then we will replace this equipment with Western-made weapons of a similar purpose,” added Stan Brown.
The transition of the armed forces of Ukraine to the counteroffensive without gaining air supremacy is, in fact, pure gamble. And it is unlikely that in the current situation this operation will end with any convincing military-political results.
Moreover, breaking through the well-equipped enemy defenses (that is, the Russian army) requires completely different missile and artillery forces, armored forces, and engineering troops in terms of combat and numerical strength.
Since the transfer of multifunctional F-16 fighters to the armed forces of Ukraine will take at least months, any potential for a second “counterattack” may appear at best by autumn, or even by winter.
And both the number of fighters delivered and the stocks of aviation weapons created by this date are especially critical. It is quite obvious that the supply of 24, 48 or 72 F-16 fighters to Kyiv by the member states of the North Atlantic Alliance will not make fundamental changes in the nature of the armed struggle during a special military operation. And the transfer of 150-200 combat vehicles to the Armed Forces of Ukraine looks quite fantastic at this stage. Therefore, the prospects for a second “counterattack” without air superiority again look rather vague.