Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his visit to RAF Coningsby in Linconshire.
The UK is weighing up whether to send fighter jets to Ukraine in a move that would pile pressure on other Western countries to step up their military support for Kyiv, writes Inews from London.
On a visit to Britain Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky requested “wings for freedom”, arguing that donations of planes would help Ukraine defeat Russia and restore its legal borders.
Rishi Sunak has asked the Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, to examine whether the RAF can spare Typhoon fighters in the coming months. Ukrainian pilots will soon come to Britain for training on the NATO-standard jets, although it is currently unclear when they will be fully qualified to fly them.
Government insiders acknowledge that it may not be possible to send jets in time to make a difference to the current war.
Mr Sunak also hopes that by becoming the first major Western power to despatch fighter aircraft to Ukraine, the UK may encourage other allies such as the US and Germany to follow suit. But some in the Government remain sceptical about the idea. One Cabinet minister told: “We haven’t got any f***ing jets to give!”
The RAF has more than 130 Typhoon fighters, of which around 30 are currently due to be decommissioned in 2025, even though they will have around half of their notional maximum flying time left, potentially making them the top candidates to be sent to the front line.
One of the major issues is the need to train Ukraine’s pilots to fly British jets, which will take months or even years.
If Ukraine did receive Western jets, it would also need other infrastructure such as ground support to enable its air force to use them properly.
The Russian Embassy in the UK hit out at Mr Sunak’s announcement, saying that jet deliveries would have “military and political consequences for the entire European continent”, quotes ‘Inews’.
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