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Ukraine urgently needs fourth-generation modern fighter jets, Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat said on March 29.
Speaking on national television, Ihnat explained that the Soviet MiG-29 fighter jets supplied by Poland and Slovakia were not enough to defend Ukrainian territory on air, land, and sea.
"The (American) F-16 or another multi-role aircraft of the same type will help," Ihnat added.
Recognizing that the transfer of aircraft is a complicated and timely process, Ihnat stressed that such measures needed to be initiated now.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said during a Senate hearing on March 28 that modern fighter jets would not help Ukraine "at this stage of the war" given that providing them was an 18-month-long process.
However, Austin did not entirely rule out providing F-16s or other fourth-generation aircraft to Ukraine at some point in the future. He also stressed that the current priority for the Ukrainian military was long-range air defense.
Critics argue that allies' reluctance to supply F-16 fighters and long-range ATACMS missiles to Ukraine will prevent Kyiv from launching a major counteroffensive and liberating Ukrainian territory. Ukraine's lack of advanced aircraft and missiles is also likely to prolong Russia's war of aggression and result in thousands of deaths, many argue.