Patterico's Pontifications

1/30/2023

President Biden Says No F-16s to Ukraine

Filed under: General — Dana @ 3:38 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Today, President Biden was asked whether the United States would send F-16s to Ukraine. The President answered no, saying that the U.S. would not send fighter jets to Ukraine. This despite repeated requests from President Zelensky and military officials pushing the Pentagon to send them.

Mr Biden was addressing reporters upon his return to the White House when he was asked if the US would offer the single-engine multirole fighters to Kyiv.

He replied: “No”.

The president’s statement comes amid a renewed push by Pentagon officials to provide the jets, which are manufactured by Lockheed Martin and used by a variety of US allies, in the wake of his decision to allow Kyiv to acquire American-made M1 Abrams tanks.

President Biden did not comment any further on the situation. Given that he reversed course on sending Abrams after saying that sending tanks would escalate the war, perhaps he will reverse course on the fighter jets as well.

Meanwhile, here is a brief look at what is being sent to Ukraine and by whom:

Ukraine will receive the 14 Challenger 2 main battle tanks pledged by the U.K. “this side of the summer,” U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said on Jan. 30.

France, Australia launch joint artillery shell production for Ukraine.

France and Australia plan to produce several thousand artillery shells for Ukraine in a joint multi-million dollar project, French Defense Minister Sébastian Lecornu said on Jan. 30.

Macron does not rule out sending fighter jets to Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Jan. 30 that multiple conditions must be met before France does so. The jets should not lead to an escalation of tensions or be used to “touch Russian soil.” Macron added that the provision of fighter jets to Ukraine must also not “weaken the capacities of the French army.”

Additionally, Poland is weighing out on sending fighter jets to Ukraine. However, Germany is a hard no:

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has vehemently opposed the move. “The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” he told Tagesspiegel in an interview published on Sunday.

–Dana

38 Responses to “President Biden Says No F-16s to Ukraine”

  1. My guess is that Biden will change his mind.

    Dana (1225fc)

  2. He may, if he thinks it is not enough for Ukraine to win the war, and possibly needed for them to avoid losing.

    One of these days he (and the U.S. military) will guess wrong, and the war will end,

    Sammy Finkelman (b2a3aa)

  3. More likely is that the US will give other countries (such as Poland and the Netherlands) permission to transfer their F-16s to Ukraine and the US will backfill with F-35s. Other European countries with the plane include Greece, Portugal, and Romania (I exclude Turkey because they are untrustworthy).

    Even Ukraine admits it will take 6 months to train their pilots on the plane.

    F-16s may not be the game changer everyone thinks they would be:

    A number of MIG-29s have been delivered to Ukraine over the past few months, many of which have seen action, perhaps most notably by utilising US-donated HARMS to target Russian Air Defence Systems, however, its use in theatre has been somewhat limited due to said threat of Russian Air Defence.

    Unfortunately, this same limitation would also be the case with any future F-16 acquisition for Ukraine, as Russian Mobile Air Defence Systems still would continue to present a significant threat to combat air operations, no matter the platform in question. ……
    ……..
    Pros:

    Superior avionics and radar systems alongside Western Air to Air Weapons Systems would perhaps swing air superiority in favour of the Ukrainian Air Force.

    More opportunity for more advanced weapons loadout, threatening Russian Air Defence and ground positions.

    Cons:

    Expensive. Removes essential personnel from the battlefield for extensive periods of training when focus could be put on more MIG-29s

    Russian Air Defence threat not likely to change in the short to medium turn, even with improved air to ground strike capability.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  4. What we should send are all those 1980s A-10s that the Air Force doesn’t want, but that Congress makes them use. They are ideal for the type of anti-armor and anti-infantry combat air support uses that Ukraine needs. Those 30mm autocannonss are real demoralizers on the receiving end.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  5. More incrementalism, but the problem here is that Ukraine will want to strike bases inside Russia that are launching missiles at their cities. We’ll tell them not to, as Macron is doing, but in the end we’ll relent as those attacks on civilians are war crimes.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  6. The problem also is that we’re negotiating against ourselves. Putin keeps drawing these red lines, and we avoid them. Why are we not drawing our own red lines? As in “send any more missiles into cities and NATO might enter the war to remove your missile bases.”

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  7. Putin keeps drawing these red lines, and we avoid them.

    Actually the West has crossed Putin’s red lines, and he has done nothing. The only red line that is uncrossed is mutual, that NATO and Russia will not attack each other directly. But Ukraine is now occupying “sovereign Russian territory” (the occupied Oblasts) by using Western weapons, and Putin has done nothing. The Ukrainians sunk the Russian Navy’s flagship, and nothing happened. The Kerch Bridge was damaged, and nothing happened (beyond the usual missile attacks on the civilian population.) Hence the hysterical reaction by Putin’s talking heads here and here.

    His bellicose rhetoric threatening nuclear war has been met by the West by increasing the lethality and number of weapons provided to Ukraine. Putin has said his nuclear threats are “not a bluff” but that is exactly what they are.

    It isn’t Putin who is drawing red lines, it is NATO.

    The U.S. and NATO must do a 180-degree turn and let Russian President Vladimir Putin know that we are abandoning all red lines and will henceforth provide whatever support is necessary to defend against the growing Russian threat. If it is deemed necessary to maintain certain restrictions, they should be kept secret. Let’s keep the Russians guessing. Make them plan and prepare against all eventualities. Why give them information vital to fashioning their strategy by announcing everything we won’t do or won’t supply?

    If the Russians continue to launch missiles from ships in the Black Sea or from aircraft based on Russian soil, Ukraine must have longer-range missiles to defend its population. Any facility that the Russians use to support offensive action in Ukraine should be fair game. And Ukraine must have better air defense capabilities, including a replenishment of its fighter jet supply, to protect its cities and infrastructure. If President Putin knows that his aggressive acts will set the stage for the defensive equipment that the U.S. and its allies will supply, perhaps he might think twice before further expanding the hostilities. Regardless of what he does, it is essential that Ukraine be quickly supplied with the war materiel it needs to achieve success.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  8. I am just preparing myself for the wall of text approaching, like a tsunami of nonsense.

    Simon Jester (c8876d)

  9. Why are we not drawing our own red lines? As in “send any more missiles into cities and NATO might enter the war to remove your missile bases.”

    Because Ukraine is not a NATO member?

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  10. Biden said “no” on the M1s, until he said “yes”.

    If there’s a jet or missile that could take down more of Kerch Bridge, let the Ukrainians have it.

    Paul Montagu (e21d53)

  11. My guess is he won’t:

    Sweden plans to supply Ukraine with Gripen fighter jets

    https://min.news/en/military/a409faa4bc530b328f75ed6ccff23b7e.html

    DCSCA (8aab6d)

  12. @4. Proprietary technology in inventoried hardware is likely a factor- or they’re earmarked for Taiwan at some later date where U.S. interests are at risk. Proprietary technology is what will hold up the Abrams for most of the year as they have to be built from scratch– and it is why Israel denied Iron Dome systems to corrupt Ukraine as well.

    DCSCA (8aab6d)

  13. Why are we not drawing our own red lines? As in “send any more missiles into cities and NATO might enter the war to remove your missile bases.”

    Kevin M (1ea396) — 1/30/2023 @ 4:55 pm

    Longer answer:

    Because NATO does not want a direct military confrontation with Russia. If NATO were to attack Russian missile bases (and you would never get unanimous agreement to do so), it would give Putin the green light to attack the Polish and German bases being used for weapon deliveries, as well as the cargo aircraft making the deliveries. Then there would be the inevitable retaliation by the West, followed by Russia’s retaliation.

    Not a good scenario.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  14. @13. It would also verify his repeated assertions over the years that NATO is an offensive organization, not a defensive alliance.

    DCSCA (8aab6d)

  15. What we should send are all those 1980s A-10s that the Air Force doesn’t want, but that Congress makes them use.

    Great aircraft, would love to see them rip up Russian troop and supply columns. A turkey shoot (except for the Russian anti-air missile defenses. Minor detail.) Too bad we said no. Apparently most of the A-10s in the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base boneyard have been stripped of parts to keep remaining planes in the air. Sad!

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  16. ……why Israel denied Iron Dome systems……

    Also to curry favor from Putin vis a vis Syria.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  17. @16. And yet Israel receives $3.3 billion annually in U.S. aid…

    “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests…” – Lord Palmerston

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_John_Temple,_3rd_Viscount_Palmerston

    DCSCA (8aab6d)

  18. The 7 Best European Fighter Jets

    After having fought multiple wars European nations were finally able to unite as a union. A logical next step was to collaborate on military research and development. A number of military projects have since come out of the EU. These are the 6 best European fighter jets.

    1. Dassault Mirage III
    2. SEPECAT Jaguar
    3. Panavia Tornado
    4. Dassault Mirage 2000
    5. Dassault Rafale
    6. Saab JAS 39 Gripen
    7. Eurofighter Typhoon

    https://aerocorner.com/blog/european-fighter-jets/#:~:text=The%207%20Best%20European%20Fighter%20Jets%201%201.,JAS%2039%20Gripen%20…%207%207.%20Eurofighter%20Typhoon

    Ukraine does not need U.S. F-16s w/these superb European aircraft available to tap.

    DCSCA (8aab6d)

  19. Apparently most of the A-10s in the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base boneyard have been stripped of parts to keep remaining planes in the air. Sad!

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 1/30/2023 @ 6:14 pm

    That’s basically one of AMARG’s primary functions, to serve as a cannibalization supply yard for planes that haven’t yet been decommissioned. Especially on those older planes, in some cases its the only way to get parts because the part maker probably went out of business decades ago.

    Factory Working Orphan (bce27d)

  20. Looking more like the spanish civil war evert day with biden playing the part of nevile chamberlin. Peace in our time next?

    asset (df9d87)

  21. @20. Looking more like the spanish civil war evert day with biden playing the part of nevile chamberlin. Peace in our time next?

    Next? Painting by the number$$$$… with Hunter playing the part of Pablo Picasso…

    ‘Pablo Picasso painted Guernica in 1937, taking inspiration from the bombing of Guernica, and in Leonardo da Vinci’s Battle of Anghiari. Guernica, like many important Republican masterpieces, was featured at the 1937 International Exhibition in Paris. The work’s size (11 ft by 25.6 ft) grabbed much attention and cast the horrors of the mounting Spanish civil unrest into a global spotlight. The painting has since been heralded as an anti-war work and a symbol of peace in the 20th century.’ – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Civil_War

    DCSCA (6a18ee)

  22. Surprise: from those wonderful folks who told-another-POTUS-so about Vietnam w/their Pentagon Papers– and kept it hidden from We The People…

    Pentagon-backed think tank urges US to stop war between Russia, Ukraine

    Washington: The RAND Corporation has urged the United States (US) government to try to end the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. In a landmark report, the RAND Corporation – a highly influential elite national security think tank which is funded directly by the Pentagon – has claimed that prolonging the war between Russia and Ukraine is actively harming the US and its allied nations.

    The report, which is titled “Avoiding a long war: US policy and the trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine conflict,” states that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is the most significant interstate conflict in decades, and its evolution may have a major negative impact on US interests.

    Admitting that if the United States (US) ends its support, the Ukraine resistance against the invasion by Russia will collapse, the RAND Corporation claimed that it will still be a reasonable course of action for US President Joe Biden. The report claims that it is pointless to help Ukraine since a Russian defeat is highly unlikely and warned the US government of several scenarios which may prompt Russia to consider using nuclear weapons.

    Russia has had problems during the war in Ukraine due to a shortage of military manpower. The Rand Corporation however, claimed in its report that Russian “resolve” combined with a massive military mobilization has managed to rectify the manpower shortage that enabled Ukraine to achieve limited success in the Kharkiv counteroffensive.

    Risk of war between Russia, US

    The Rand Corporation has also urged the Joe Biden administration to avoid a direct war with Russia, or a wider conflict between NATO and Russia as it may escalate to a direct nuclear exchange. The report has also warned that US Army general Mark Milley’s demand that the conflict be confined “inside the geographical boundaries of Ukraine” is unlikely due to the massive support by NATO nations and their allies which include billions of dollars’ worth of weapons and other aid apart from tactical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support.

    The RAND Corporation has opined that such extensive support to Ukraine may prompt Russia to “punish NATO members with the objective of ending allied support for Ukraine” with pre-emptive strikes. The report has predicted that if the Kremlin perceives that the NATO and its allies are trying to foment internal unrest in Russia, it may prompt President Vladimir Putin to consider direct military action against the West.

    https://www.rand.org/pubs/perspectives/PEA2510-1.html

    History rhymes.

    DCSCA (6a18ee)

  23. Not a good scenario.

    “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed”

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  24. Rhymes… and echoes from the past…

    UKRAINE – RAND STUDY SEES RISKS IN PROLONGED WAR

    ‘Beyond the potential for Russian gains and the economic consequences for Ukraine, Europe, and the world, a long war would also have on sequences for U.S. foreign policy. The U.S. ability to focus on its other global priorities —particularly, competition with China— will remain constrained as long as the war is absorbing senior policymakers’ time and U.S. military resources.

    And although Russia will be more dependent on China regardless of when the war ends, Washington does have a long-term interest in ensuring that Moscow does not become completely subordinated to Beijing. A longer war that increases Russia’s dependence could provide China advantages in its competition with the United States. The U.S., says RAND, can take measures that make a quick end of the war possible. It can press Ukraine to start negotiations and to accept a bad outcome by threatening to stop financing the war. It can encourage Russia to enter into negotiations by offering substantial sanctions relief. …

    The reports final policy advice concludes:

    ‘A dramatic, overnight shift in U.S. policy is politically impossible—both domestically and with allies—and would be unwise in any case. But developing these instruments now and socializing them with Ukraine and with U.S. allies might help catalyze the eventual start of a process that could bring this war to a negotiated end in a time frame that would serve U.S. interests. The alternative is a long war that poses major challenges for the United States, Ukraine, and the rest of the world.’

    https://williambowles.info/2023/01/27/ukraine-rand-study-sees-risks-in-prolonged-war/

    DCSCA (6a18ee)

  25. The experts tell the people who pay them what they want to here or they are out of a job. You could ask putin’s experts in the gulag if they are still alive. We won’t be lifting off the embassy roof top like in in vietnam the experts tell me joe biden. He was right helicopters didn’t have the range we used transport aircraft. The billons thrown away in afganistan and iraq could of been usefully used by people who want to fight in ukraine. How many combat troops have been lost in ukraine ? How many in afganistan and iraq defending those who wouldn’t fight for their own country. DCSCA we just disagree.

    asset (df9d87)

  26. @25. The PPs were generated well into the conflict after the floodgates were opened and LBJ escalated commitments after ’65… it was not analysis they wanted to hear and it was deliberately kept under wraps until leaked to the press. The MIC didn’t want to hear it; Dow and Bell Aircraft stocks soared; and when we did finally leave and pull the $ plug, the collapse was swift. This recent report is another ‘light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train’ warning; a reasoned analysis before any deeper commitment w/troops [though we obviously have special ops boots on the ground already] beyond the financing but clearly the arms and munitions, as well as the monies to prop up, salary and maintain a corrupt government is heavy -just as w/South Vietnam- and tghe keep demanding more. It’s Europe that has to step up. It’s report ramifications of a protracted conflict for geopolitical leverage in out years that is the warning- and it’ll be an albatross around the neck of the next POTUS or three long after Joe is gone from the scene– and from this world. The waste in Afghanistan and Iraq are a matter of fact as you note – and been a gravy train for the MIC.

    DCSCA (f4c5e5)

  27. Looking more like the spanish civil war evert day with biden playing the part of nevile chamberlin. Peace in our time next?

    asset (df9d87) — 1/30/2023 @ 8:16 pm

    How many weapons did Chamberlin send to the Loyalists?

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  28. “I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed”

    Great movie

    General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?

    Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don’t think I do, sir, no.

    General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

    Horatio (db9519)

  29. Kevin M (1ea396) — 1/30/2023 @ 4:55 pm

    The problem also is that we’re negotiating against ourselves. Putin keeps drawing these red lines, and we avoid them.

    No, we avoid whatever red lines
    we imagine could trigger an escalation, and ignore those that are not evaluated that way, and disregard anything Putin says.

    Why are we not drawing our own red lines? As in “send any more missiles into cities and NATO might enter the war to remove your missile bases.”

    Because Biden is afraid of what could happen next. But he’s not basing that on any words that come out of Russia. He’s basing it on what some people worry that Putin might do.

    Now Putin actually would only escalate if he feared it could cause the Russian government to fall. And he keeps on hinting it could be just about anything that could cause him to escalate. Biden relies on neither of these. He simply has his own ideas of what could cause an escalation, and ignores anything Putin or Russian government officials say.

    Putin tries to make the U.S. believe he might be swayed by hawks. The U.S. government, however, has its own calculations, completely divorced from anything coming out of Russia..

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  30. Horatio (db9519) — 1/31/2023 @ 11:51 am

    our precious bodily fluids.

    A reference to water fluoridation, which was a Goldwater Republican or John Birch Society type issue 60 years ago.

    https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/pipe-dreams-americas-fluoride-controversy

    It’s put in there to make General Jack D. Ripper sound blatantly wrong about things. To make sure that we don’t miss it.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  31. Why are we not drawing our own red lines? As in “send any more missiles into cities and NATO might enter the war to remove your missile bases.”

    Because Biden is afraid of what could happen next. But he’s not basing that on any words that come out of Russia. He’s basing it on what some people worry that Putin might do.

    And the fact NATO was not set up to conduct offensive war, it is a defensive alliance. Also, you would never get unanimous agreement from NATO to conduct such an operation (which is required under its charter). It would undoubtedly provide a casus belli for Russia to attack NATO. Do you seriously believe they wouldn’t?

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  32. Biden is afraid of making Ukraine too strong. And he’s afraid of leaving it too weak, and does not like to see missiles rained down on Ukraine (or his aides do not)

    The upshot however is that he’s trying to calibrate a bloody stalemate.

    He’s also afraid to try to depose Putin, or even to encourage it because he’s bought into Putin’s propaganda that he could be succeeded by someone worse.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  33. Sammy Finkelman (1d215a) — 1/31/2023 @ 1:52 pm

    I’m glad you know so much.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  34. It’s obvious.

    Biden has a strategy that amounts to keeping the war going. Not because he wants to. But because that’s what happens after he has eliminated all the alternatives. It is what he is defaulting to. It’s like the Korean War between 1951 and 1953 (which ended by Eisenhower making some secret threats)

    The way out is for Ukraine to plead weakness, and get some more help, and have some unexpected successes and panic Putin and Russia. But that may not be enough to stop the war.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  35. Biden’s ‘no’ on F-16s for Ukraine met with skepticism in Pentagon
    ………
    One senior defense official, who, like some others interviewed for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said that while the Pentagon’s calculus was unlikely to shift soon, there remains a possibility that the discussion could be “M1-ed,” a reference to Biden’s recent commitment of M1 Abrams tanks after administration officials suggested for months that the sophisticated arms would be too complex for Ukraine to maintain.
    ………
    The Ukrainians want the F-16, in part, because there are more than two dozen nations that fly them, creating a large pool of potential donors, said David Deptula, a retired Air Force lieutenant general. Given the limited number of aircraft and spare parts available with the MiG-29, he said, Ukraine will need to adopt a Western aircraft at some point.
    ……..
    Other analysts are wary of the Biden administration continuing to increase its involvement in the war. Daniel Davis, a retired Army officer and senior fellow with Defense Priorities, said that it is unreasonable to expect that Ukrainian pilots can master the F-16 in just a few months and that the continued threat of Russian air defenses makes it unlikely that the jets are a game changer.
    ………
    Davis said he does not believe the provision of F-16s alone would prompt Russia to escalate its war, but if Ukraine threatens to take back the Crimean Peninsula that Russia annexed illegally in 2014, Moscow could take drastic measures.
    ………

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  36. The way out is for Ukraine to plead weakness……

    They have been pleading weakness since Day One.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  37. I’m glad you know so much.

    Sometimes I feel lucky to have his counsel.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  38. Given the limited number of aircraft and spare parts available with the MiG-29, he said, Ukraine will need to adopt a Western aircraft at some point.

    And there are plenty in the Europe to choose from:

    The Best European Fighter Jets

    After having fought multiple wars European nations were finally able to unite as a union. A logical next step was to collaborate on military research and development. A number of military projects have since come out of the EU. These are the best European fighter jets.

    1. Dassault Mirage III
    2. SEPECAT Jaguar
    3. Panavia Tornado
    4. Dassault Mirage 2000
    5. Dassault Rafale
    6. Saab JAS 39 Gripen
    7. Eurofighter Typhoon

    https://aerocorner.com/blog/european-fighter-jets/#:~:text=The%207%20Best%20European%20Fighter%20Jets%201%201.,JAS%2039%20Gripen%20…%207%207.%20Eurofighter%20Typhoon

    Ukraine does not need U.S. F-16s w/these superb European aircraft available.

    DCSCA (10cb18)


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