UK says ‘not practical’ to give Ukraine British fighter jets – POLITICO

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LONDON — The British government has ruled out sending fighter jets to Ukraine for the time being.

Kyiv has in recent days stepped up its requests for jets after European allies agreed to supply battle tanks to aid the fight against Russian forces.

But Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s official spokesperson told reporters Tuesday that the U.K.’s F35 fighter jets are “extremely sophisticated and take months to learn how to fly.”

And he added: “Given that, we believe it is not practical to send those jets into Ukraine. Obviously we will continue to provide and accelerate our military support to Ukraine and to listen carefully to their requests.”

Pressed on whether there was anything the U.K. could do to more quickly prepare F35s for Ukrainian use or to encourage other nations to supply Kyiv with fighter jets, the spokesperson said it is “length of time it takes to learn how to use what are very complex pieces of equipment that is the limiting factor in this case.”

“But we will explore what more we can do to support Ukraine,” they added. “It’s simply the view that it’s not currently practical to send fighter jets.”

The decision comes just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to rule out his own country supplying Ukraine with its F-16 fighters for now.

France has said it is considering Ukraine’s request to provide fighter-jet pilot training, but while the country’s President Emmanuel Macron has said “nothing is excluded in principle” when it comes to support for Ukraine, he has warned that any fresh help must “not be escalatory.”

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