U.S. aerospace company Lockheed Martin is ready to increase its production of F16 fighter jets to meet the demand as some of Kyiv's allies are seeking to supply F16s to Ukraine, Frank St. John, the company's chief operating officer, told the Financial Times.
St. John said the the company was “going to be ramping production on F-16s in Greenville (South Carolina) to get to the place where we will be able to backfill pretty capably any countries that choose to do third-party transfers to help with the current conflict”.
So far, the U.S. has refused to supply F16 fighter jets to Ukraine or authorize their transfer by third countries.
St. John said that there was “a lot of conversation about third-party transfer of F-16s”, according to which countries would “re-export their U.S.-made jets” to Ukraine.
However, the Financial Times reported that the company “is not directly involved in talks” on the potential delivery of military aircraft to Ukraine.
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 on Jan. 20.
The discussions to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets were reignited after the U.S. and Germany decided to supply main battle tanks to Ukraine.
On Jan. 19, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the country’s government would look into providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets “if Kyiv asks for it.”