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US approves European countries to Provide F-16 fighter jet training to Ukraine

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In a significant development, a senior Biden administration official confirmed on Sunday that the United States has granted permission for European countries to train Ukrainian forces on F-16 fighter jets. This decision holds immense potential for Ukraine’s efforts to counter Russia’s air superiority and enhance its defense capabilities.

National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan revealed during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that President Joe Biden has given the green light to support and facilitate the training of Ukrainians on F-16s, as soon as European nations are prepared to do so. This shift marks a stark turnaround for President Biden, who had previously expressed reservations about the necessity of F-16s for Ukraine.

One of the key challenges faced by Ukrainian ground forces in their counteroffensive against Russian aggression is the formidable Russian air power, which has hindered their progress. Russia currently maintains air superiority, making it difficult for Ukrainian ground forces to advance effectively.

In May, President Biden informed G7 leaders of the United States’ commitment to support a joint effort with allies and partners in training Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s. However, the exact timeline for the commencement of this training was not specified at that time.

The F-16, a US-manufactured jet, possesses air-to-air refueling capabilities and is compatible with the majority of NATO weapons already being supplied to Ukraine. Despite its initial production in the 1980s, the F-16 has undergone multiple upgrades, making it more advanced and versatile than any jet currently in Ukraine’s fleet. It stands as a formidable adversary to most Russian aircraft, with the exception of newer models that Moscow has been hesitant to deploy in Ukraine.

Sullivan emphasized that European allies have indicated the need for several weeks to prepare their training capabilities, and the United States is committed to meeting their desired timeline. He stated, “The United States will not be the hold-up in ensuring that this F-16 training can get underway.”

Shifting focus to US national defense, Sullivan expressed concern over the House-passed defense policy bill, which includes controversial amendments addressing sensitive social issues. He criticized a group of conservative Republicans for introducing amendments that intertwine domestic social debates with national security needs. These amendments touch on topics such as abortion policy, transgender healthcare access, and diversity and inclusion programs, leading to frustration among Democrats and setting the stage for a clash with the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Responding to the argument that the bill was passed along party lines but received support from a majority of House GOP lawmakers, Sullivan contended that a small group of Republicans had hijacked the process. He stressed that a significant number of House members, including Republicans, did not wish to see politics interfere with the National Defense Authorization Act, describing the situation as a trap that the country does not need to find itself in.

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