US Air Force chief Frank Kendall has poured cold water on claims that F-16s will have a significant impact in helping Ukraine defeat Russian forces, conceding that the American-made fighter jets won’t be a “game-changer” for Kiev because airpower isn’t playing a decisive role in the conflict.
The F-16s “will give the Ukrainians an increment of capability that they don’t have right now,” Kendall said on Monday at an event in Washington. “But it’s not going to be a dramatic game-changer, as far as I’m concerned, for their total military capabilities.”
After months of saying the US won’t be providing F-16s to Kiev, President Joe Biden’s administration indicated last week that it would help Ukraine procure the jets. No decision has been made on whether Washington will send the F-16s directly or merely let European allies provide them, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday. Either way, the US will support a joint international training program to prepare Ukrainian pilots to fly the jets.