‘Premature’ to set date for F-16 deployment in Ukraine, much work ahead: Gen. Milley

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US Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Thursday that discussing a specific date for the deployment of F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine would be “premature,” citing the need for significant remaining work.

“There's a lot of work left to be done, but I think it would be premature to give a specific date on any time the F-16s or any other type of advanced aircraft would be employed in combat in Ukraine. There's a lot of work to do,” Milley said at a press conference.

The top general said such work would include language training, pilot training, and the establishment of all necessary systems. He added that while progress has been made in these areas, there was still a considerable distance to go before the project could be concluded: “Wheels are in motion, but we are a ways from completion of that project.”

Last week, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he has received a “serious, powerful” offer from leaders of “partner countries” who are ready to provide Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets and is waiting on finalized agreements.

“Our partners know how many aircraft we need. I have already received an understanding of the number from some of our European partners, and it is powerful,” Zelenskyy said according to the Ukrainian Presidency.

He added: “I am very happy with the information I received from some countries. I just had a day of happiness. It was a serious, powerful offer.”

The Ukrainian President said that once the agreements were finalized, preparations of the required infrastructure would begin, but he cautioned that the process would take some time.

Zelenskyy has persistently urged Western allies to provide Ukraine with the F-16 fighter jets and emphasized that their presence alongside Ukrainian pilots would serve as a powerful global signal that Russia's invasion would ultimately end in failure.

US President Joe Biden had endorsed training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, announcing in May during a visit by Zelenskyy to Washington: “The US continues to do all we can to strengthen Ukraine’s ability to defend itself, including launching some new joint efforts with our partners to train Ukrainian pilots on a fourth-generation fighter aircraft like the F-16.”

Meanwhile, Russia has cautioned against supplying Ukraine with F-16s warning that it would escalate the conflict further.

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