Any country operating F-16s is allowed to send them to battle-ravaged Ukraine, the Pentagon says, while stressing that it won’t send the jets to the country.
"I don't think we're against it," a senior U.S. Defense Department official said in a statement to Politico when asked about the possibility of other countries sending F-16s to Ukraine.
However, such a decision has not yet been made, he added.
Weapons obtained from the U.S. are required to obtain Washington's approval before transferring them to a third country.
One of the countries that could send F-16s to Ukraine is the Netherlands. The Air Force’s transition to the F-35 will free up dozens of F-16s fighters in the coming years.
The UK announced it would soon begin to train Ukrainian pilots to fly modern fighters while the U.S. has yet to make any such move. Belgium later followed Britain’s suit.
Britain has announced the creation of a coalition of countries that will start working on sending aircraft to Ukraine after a meeting between British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
The Pentagon says it does not consider the F-16 a prime necessity for Kyiv. It mirrored the views of a top Ukrainian official. “Ukraine's top three priorities are air defense, artillery, and mechanized and armored vehicles,” a Defense Ministry spokesman told the publication.
On the flipside, U.S. lawmakers are in favor of sending fighter jets. It is expected that the possibility of transferring the F-16 to Kyiv will be discussed at the G-7 meeting in Japan this week. In addition, this topic will be on the agenda of the annual NATO leaders' summit in Lithuania in July.
It appears that no European government has made a formal request to the United States to send fighter jets to Ukraine, Politico noted.