A bipartisan group of senators known as on the Pentagon on Tuesday to “take a hard look” at sending superior U.S. fighter jets to Ukraine to assist the nation in its struggle with Russia.
The group of eight senators, led by Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ), wrote in a letter to Division of Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin that the U.S. was “at a critical juncture in the conflict” and requested Austin to reply quite a few questions on the potential of sending Ukraine F-16 plane.
“After speaking with U.S., Ukrainian, and foreign leaders working to support Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference last month, we believe the U.S. needs to take a hard look at providing F-16 aircraft to Ukraine,” the senators wrote.
Along with Kelly, senators signing on to the letter have been:
- Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
- Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
- Sen. Ted Budd (R-NC)
- Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
- Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL)
- Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV)
“This would be a significant capability that could prove to be a game changer on the battlefield,” they added, noting they have been “encouraged” by stories that two Ukrainian pilots had not too long ago visited Morris Air Nationwide Guard Base in Kelly’s house state for a coaching evaluation that included utilizing an F-16 simulator.
The letter comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly publicly urged the U.S. to supply F-16s as a part of his want checklist of highly effective army gadgets.
The White Home has to this point rejected Zelensky’s request regardless of bipartisan stress from some congressmembers, together with now Kelly’s group, to ship or no less than contemplate delivering for the Ukrainian president.
“We’re sending him what our seasoned military thinks he needs now,” President Joe Biden advised ABC’s David Muir in an interview in February when requested concerning the F-16s particularly.
Requested by Muir once more on the matter, Biden mentioned, “No he doesn’t need F-16s now. … There is no basis upon which there is a rationale, according to our military now, to provide F-16s.”
“But you’re not ruling it out?” Muir pressed.
“I am ruling it out for now,” Biden mentioned.
Of their letter, the senators requested Austin to answer a number of questions by March 17, together with how Ukraine would profit from F-16s and if Ukrainian pilots have been geared up to function them.
Their letter provides to the stress on the Biden administration to ramp up its army help for Ukraine however is just not fairly as direct as calls made by another members of Congress.
In February, Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME) led 15 Home Republicans and Democrats in asking Biden to “provide Ukraine with increased air superiority capability, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft requested by Kiev, or similar fourth-generation aircraft, as soon as possible.”
They contended, “The provision of such aircraft is necessary to help Ukraine protect its airspace, particularly in light of renewed Russian offensives and considering the expected increase in large-scale combat operations.”
Senate Armed Companies Committee member Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) not too long ago advised NBC’s Meet the Press he was pissed off that Biden has “slow-rolled critical military weapons systems,” including that “it took nine months to get them the Patriots and I fear the same thing is happening right now with the F-16s.”
Views on if or the best way to help Ukraine have been various, nevertheless, and never all members are on board with U.S. taxpayers funding a multibillion-dollar abroad struggle that has no clear, foreseeable ending.
Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has warned that the Home is not going to proceed to help writing a “blank check” to Ukraine, and 11 Home Republicans, led by Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), announced in February they have been backing a “Ukraine Fatigue Resolution” to finish all funding to Ukraine and urge as a substitute for a peace settlement.
Write to Ashley Oliver at [email protected] Observe her on Twitter at @asholiver.
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