By Tyler Durden
The Ukraine Defense Contact Group, which is centered out of Ramstein Air Base, is an alliance of 54 countries supporting Ukraine militarily against Russia.
In a new press briefing marking the 12th meeting of the group, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin revealed the total tally of funds and military aid pumped into Kiev. “In total, the Contact Group has committed nearly $65 billion in security assistance,” while stressing the Western allies are “as united as ever.” This total figure is separate from the Washington overall commitment as far as Ukraine aid goes, which is even larger.
This already huge figure is about to leap significantly higher, given that as Austin said, “And, last week, President Biden announced that the United States will support a joint effort with our allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, including F-16s. We hope this training will begin in the coming weeks.”
The Pentagon chief then thanked Denmark and the Netherlands for this week stepping up to lead European coalition in providing F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots. The program is expected to take multiple months to up to a year or more.
“In the coming weeks, my Dutch and Danish counterparts will work with the United States and other allies to develop a training framework,” Austin said. “Norway, Belgium, Portugal and Poland have already offered to contribute to training, and we expect more countries to join this important initiative soon.”
Austin further emphasized that the United States is “committed to standing with Ukraine for the long haul.” He also announced a new commitment to provide Kiev with “additional air-defense systems and munitions” which will be “crucial” for “protecting Ukraine’s skies and civilian infrastructure from Russia’s assault.”
Additionally, US Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley explained that F-16’s won’t act as a “magic weapon” against the superior armed Russian air force:
“The Russians have 1,000 fourth-generation fighters… If you’re gonna contest Russia in the air, you’re gonna need a substantial amount of fourth and fifth generation fighters, so if you look at the cost curve and do the analysis, the smartest thing to have done is exactly what we did do, which is provide a significant amount of integrated air defenses to cover the battlespace and deny the Russians the airspace.”
He previewed that a sustained program will run into the billions more….
“So, you’re talking about $2 billion for 10 aircraft,” he said. “The Russians have thousands of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. So, if you’re going to contest Russia in the air, you’re going to need a substantial amount of fourth- and fifth-generation fighters. If you look at the cost curve and do the analysis, the smartest thing to have done is exactly what we did do, which is provide a significant amount of integrated air defense to cover the battlespace and deny the Russians the airspace. And that is exactly what happened.”
For the future, F-16s have a role, the general said. But it is “going to take a considerable length of time to build up an air force that’s the size and scope and scale that’ll be necessary.”
Already, some of these same Pentagon officials predicted the war will drag on for “years.” On Friday, Russian Security Council Deputy Chairman Dmitry Medvedev was quoted in Russian media as saying the war will last “decades, probably.”
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