Poland To Send Fighter Jets To Ukraine, Becoming First NATO Country To Do So

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Poland confirmed plans to send at least a dozen fighter jets to Ukraine, becoming the first North American Treaty Organization (NATO) country to do so after the U.S. has rejected Ukraine’s calls to send advanced Western aircraft, according to media reports.

Poland has plans to send up to a dozen Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets, replacing its inventory with U.S.-made F-35 joint strike fighters and South Korean FA-50s, the Associated Press reported. Ukraine will receive at least four MiGs within the coming days, with the remainder to undergo checks and be supplied at a later time, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Thursday.

Polish government spokesperson Piotr Mueller also indicated other countries operating MiGs had pledged to supply some of the jets to Ukraine but did not name any specific countries, according to the AP. (RELATED: US Weapons Aid For Ukraine Could Extend Years Beyond The War, Top Pentagon Official Says)

Ukraine already employed several dozen MiGs in the fight against Russia’s invasion, planes inherited from the country’s legacy as a former Soviet state. However, about 18 Ukrainian MiGs have been visually confirmed destroyed over the course of the war, as well as 39 additional combat aircraft, according to open-source researcher Oryx.

Hours after Kyiv secured commitments of at least three battalions‘ worth of American and German tanks following months of pleading and fierce discussions among Western officials, Ukrainian defense officials launched a campaign to secure Western-made 4th generation fighter aircraft.

Ukraine has advocated for deliveries of Western fighter jets as well as Soviet-era MiG-29s since the early months of the war, according to CNN, but recently it has stepped up efforts to bolster its aging Soviet fleet with newer Western aircraft.

Two Ukrainian pilots are completing an “assessment” regimen on F-16 simulators at a U.S. military base in Arizona, and the training program could expand in the future, NBC News reported.

However, U.S. officials, including President Joe Biden, have said on multiple occasions there are no plans to send U.S. fighter jets to Ukraine.

“And since we haven’t made the decision to provide F-16s and neither have our allies and partners, it doesn’t make sense to start to train them on a system they may never get,” Colin Kahl, the top Pentagon official for policy planning, said, according to NBC News.

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