Ukraine is getting a lot of weapons and defensive equipment from Western allies, including military helicopters from the U.S. in the Biden administration's latest $800 million aid package, but fixed-wing fighter jets have been a heavier lift. The U.S. rejected an offer from Poland to transfer Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine, but Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Ukraine's military has gotten new aircraft from somewhere.
The Ukrainians "right now have available to them more fixed-wing fighter aircraft than they did two weeks ago," Kirby said. "And that's not by accident, that's because other nations who have experience with those kinds of aircraft have been able to help them get more aircraft up and running." The U.S. has helped provide Ukraine with airplane parts, "but we have not transported whole aircraft," he added.
When a reporter asked how many new aircraft Ukraine has received, Kirby said that "without getting into what other nations are providing," Ukraine has has been "able to increase" its "aircraft fleet size, I think I'd leave it at that."
The U.S. has been flying in shipments of weapons and defensive materiel on a daily basis for weeks, a senior Pentagon official said Tuesday. "Another one just arrived yesterday and in the next 24 hours we expect they'll be more than half a dozen, probably more like seven flights coming from the United States." And "none of these shipments sit around very long before being off loaded off of aircraft and on loaded appropriately in ground transportation to get them into Ukraine," the official added.
With the U.S. and its allies providing Ukraine a munitions lifeline, Russia is likely to start targeting routes used to move the materiel through Ukraine to the front lines, a Pentagon official said. Even if the Russians did successfully strike bridges, roads, and railway routes used to get the arms to Ukrainian fighters, the official added, there are too many shipments coming in for that to have much effect.