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Yurii Ihnat, the spokesman of Ukraine’s Air Force, was quoted by the Spanish newspaper El Pais as saying that the country aims to get 24 fighter jets from its Western allies in the first military package of such kind. Ihnat said that the package should include two fighter squadrons of 12 combat aircraft each.
The priority for Ukraine is to acquire American F-16s, however, they are also considering French Rafale and Swedish Gripen fighter jets, Ihnat said in an interview with El Pais, published on Jan. 28.
Later on Jan. 28, Ihnat went on TV in Ukraine to clarify that there was no clear agreement as to the planes, and the numbers and models of planes that he spoke about weren't final.
According to the spokesman, Ukraine won’t be able to rely on these aircraft on the battlefield in the short term. In addition to complicated political negotiations to obtain the fighter jets, it will take at least six months to train pilots and ground support teams, he explained.
Ihnat earlier said that the U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets could be the best option for Ukraine’s Air Force. So far, the U.S. has refused to supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine or authorize their transfer by third countries.
The discussion to provide Ukraine with fighter jets reignited after the U.S. and European countries decided to supply Ukraine with main battle tanks.
On Jan. 20, President Volodymyr Zelensky asked partners to give Ukraine longer-range missiles and F-16 fighters during his speech at the Ramstein-8 meeting in Germany.
The West doesn’t have an unanimous opinion on the issue.
Germany does not operate F-16s, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz said fighter jets, in general, are off the table.
“There will be no fighter jet deliveries to Ukraine. This was made clear very early, including from the U.S. President,” Scholz told the German parliament on Jan. 25, as quoted by CNN.