Kinzinger Says US Will Send F-16s To Ukraine

Former Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) has hit the ground running in his new position as a political commentator for CNN. The staunch never-Trumper and former member of Nancy Pelosi’s Select January 6 Committee predicted Thursday that it is inevitable that the U.S. will supply the Ukrainian government with American F-16 fighter jets.

In an appearance on the network’s “The Situation Room,” Kinzinger said that the U.S. and its allies have taken a while to agree that Ukraine needs the jets, but part of the reason is that the U.S. doesn’t want to step out too far ahead of Europe. Kinzinger also stated that Ukraine would be a “NATO standard military equipment country that includes F-16s” in the near future.

Kinzinger dismissed any concerns about training, use, and maintenance of the fighter planes by claiming Ukraine has “an excess capacity of pilots.” He added that he has talked to them and led the last effort in Congress to begin training Ukrainians in using F-16s. that can “come here” and learn the F-16 and its weapons systems in “a couple of months.”

Meanwhile, the United States has announced plans to send its most recent version of the M1 Abrams tank to Ukraine. The latest piece of equipment is considered deadlier and has more upgrades than its predecessor.

The Pentagon will ship the M1A2 version of the tank to Ukraine. The later version has more devastating weapons and operates on a state-of-the-art digital system, unlike the older M1A1 version.

Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh told the press on Thursday: “The U.S. cannot ship the tanks immediately because the U.S. military does not have these tanks available in excess in our U.S. stocks.”

She added that the shipments would not come by depleting existing Department of Defense stockpiles. Rather, the tanks will be procured through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI). Under that authorization, the Pentagon will buy the latest version of the Abrams directly from its maker, General Dynamics. They will then be shipped directly to Ukraine for use in the ongoing war there with Russia.

Singh said the procurement process “is going to take months.”

Joe Biden said on Wednesday that he is authorizing the shipment of 31 Abrams tanks to Ukraine. That statement coincides with a German announcement to immediately provide Leopard tanks that the Kyiv government says are essential in its fight against Russia.

This week’s announcements follow a week of secretive negotiations between the U.S. and its NATO allies.

The announcement about the M1A2 Abrams also stands as a significant reversal in Biden’s stated policy. The administration has previously insisted the tanks would be of little benefit to Ukraine because of the system’s heavy training and maintenance requirements.