Poland’s deputy defense minister denied that the country was discussing the supply of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, contrary to Kiev’s earlier statement.
“There are no formal discussions about the delivery of the F-16 at this time,” Poland’s Deputy Defense Minister Wojciech Skurkiewicz said on January 31.
Pawel Krutul, deputy chairman of the Polish Parliament’s Defense Committee, previously warned that the country’s military could become weakened if it transferred F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. “The decision to supply F-16s to Ukraine instead of the MiG-29 squadron would be no different from disarming the armed forces,” he wrote on Twitter.
The Polish Air Force is operating 48 multi-role F-16 fighters, of which 12 are F-16D versions dedicated to training but still capable of combat.
The statement was made by Polish officials after Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to the President of Ukraine, announced that Warsaw is ready to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Kiev with the coordination of NATO. “We have positive signals from Poland,” he said.
Ukraine is targeting modern fighters from its Western allies after receiving commitments for main tanks from the US and Germany last week. Ukraine is operating a squadron of fighters from the Soviet era with capabilities that are underestimated compared to modern Russian and Western fighters.
The US has refused to provide F-15s and F-16s to Ukraine, as well as not accepting to create conditions for Poland to transfer MiG-29 aircraft due to fear of escalating tensions with Russia. NATO member countries must also seek permission from the US if they want to transfer F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced that he will not send fighter jets to Ukraine. “I can only advise people not to engage in the constant competition to pay higher prices when it comes to weapon systems,” Scholz said on January 29.
US President Joe Biden on January 30 also said “no” when asked by reporters about the possibility of supporting the option of transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
F-16 multi-role fighter, developed by General Dynamics in the 1970s, is in service with the US and many allied countries. F-16 can reach a maximum speed of 2,100 km / h at an altitude of 12,000 m, a ceiling of 18,000 m with a range of 546 km. The F-16 is equipped with a 20mm cannon, and 11 pylons that can carry up to 7.7 tons of weapons such as bombs and guided missiles.
Vu Anh (Theo AFP)