The US said it could cost $ 2 billion to send F-16 fighters to Ukraine

The Pentagon said that in order to deliver 10 F-16 fighters to Ukraine, the US and its allies need two billion dollars to buy equipment and maintain operations.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on May 25 said that two European allies, Denmark and the Netherlands, had "decided to take the lead" in developing a plan to train Ukrainian pilots to operate F-16 fighter jets. when other countries pledge their support.

"Norway, Belgium, Portugal and Poland have offered to contribute to the pilot training program. We expect more countries to join this important initiative," Mr. Austin said.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said countries will deliver 10 F-16 fighters to Ukraine, and calculate the cost of this effort. "It takes a billion dollars to buy those fighters, it takes another billion dollars to keep it running, so it takes two billion dollars for 10 F-16s," he said.

The F-16 multirole fighter, developed by General Dynamics in the 1970s, is used by the US and its allies. Each F-16 costs about 30-35 million USD depending on the variant, but customers can pay more or less based on the quantity ordered, economic - political conditions and other factors.

US F-16 fighter jets operate in the Middle East on May 1. Photo: USAF

When asked if the US Congress would provide the necessary funding for Ukraine to receive F-16 fighters, Secretary Austin said "this is an international effort". "Our colleagues are looking to establish a fund so that other countries can contribute to the joint effort. I hope the US Congress will support," Mr. Austin said.

General Milley and US military commanders affirmed that modern fighters are not the key for Ukraine to change the situation of conflict with Russia . "There's no such thing as a miracle weapon, the F-16 or anything else," Milley said.

President Joe Biden is committed to helping allies and partners train pilots and deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, a White House official said on May 20. The coalition of nations participating in the effort "will decide when to deliver the fighters, the quantity and the supplier."

The US decision is considered particularly important, because allies need Washington's approval to re-export weapons and military equipment to third countries, including F-16 fighters.

The US led the military aid alliance to Ukraine after hostilities with Russia broke out in February 2022. The West has sent to Ukraine tens of billions of dollars in weapons, including main battle tanks, armor, anti-aircraft missiles and long-range cruise missiles.

However, the US has opposed supplying advanced fighter jets to Ukraine for fear of a lengthy and expensive process, as well as escalating tensions with Russia. Washington recently changed its mind as its Western allies and Kiev increased pressure to get the US to approve the delivery of the F-16.

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