UK fighter jet swap plan for Ukraine: Ben Wallace says UK could give Typhoons to NATO countries that offer Kyiv MiGs that can be deployed immediately
The UK could offer Typhoon jets to NATO countries that give Ukraine MiGs that can be deployed immediately.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed the idea of a ‘swap’ is in play on the first anniversary of the Russian invasion.
Volodymyr Zelensky has been pleading for fighter planes to help drive Vladimir Putin’s forces out, but there are concerns that it would take years to train up Ukrainian pilots and ground crew to use Britain’s Typhoons and F-35s.
Experts say they also would not be the most effective jets for the battleground.
In a round of interviews this morning, Ben Wallace suggested Britain could supply fighter jets to eastern European allies to enable them to release their Soviet-era planes
There are concerns that it would take years to train up Ukrainian pilots and ground crew to use Britain’s Typhoons (pictured) and F-35s
MiG-29 fighters from the Polish air force take part in NATO exercises
In a round of interviews this morning, Mr Wallace suggested Britain could supply fighter jets to eastern European allies to enable them to release their Soviet-era planes.
Mr Wallace told Times Radio: ‘In the timescale of this conflict right now, the ability for us to train pilots on Typhoons and then train them on the fighting of Typhoon because fighting aircraft is a very complicated layered process.
‘And you also require about 200 people to look after the jets like a Formula One pit crew… the West is not putting in RAF personnel or other Air Force personnel into Ukraine.
‘So the other quick way that Ukraine can benefit from fighter jets is for those countries in Europe that have Russian Soviet fighter jets – MiG 29s or Su-24s – if they wish to donate we can use our fighter jets to backfill and provide security for them as a result.
‘They are already configured to fight in a Nato way, where of course Ukraine isn’t.’
with the UK set to join allies in pledging to stand with the war-torn country for as long as is needed.
The UK remains a prominent supporter of Kyiv, with the Government announcing earlier this year that Britain would be the first country to supply tanks to its armed forces.
But Mr Zelensky’s call for fighter jets has so far been met with reluctance by Western allies.
Mr Zelensky, whose leadership during the war has turned him into a global figure, embarked on a whirlwind of diplomacy in recent weeks as he toured Washington and European capitals to pressure allies on the need for further help.
At a G7 meeting, Mr Sunak is expected to urge other nations to supply longer-range weapons to Kyiv, while also repeating his offer of British support to countries able to provide planes.
‘As we mark one year since a full-scale war broke out on our continent, I urge everyone to reflect on the courage and bravery of our Ukrainian friends who, every hour since, have fought heroically for their country,’ he said.
‘I am proud that the UK has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine through this horrific conflict. As I stand with brave Ukrainian soldiers outside Downing Street today, my thoughts will be with all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend freedom and return peace to Europe.’
In London, Mr Sunak will lead a national minute’s silence to mark the anniversary.
Mr Sunak, who also will host members of the Ukrainian armed forces in Downing Street as well as ambassador Vadym Prystaiko, will hang a blue and yellow wreath on the door of No 10 accompanied by his wife Akshata Murty.
G7 leaders are set to meet to discuss a conflict that has scarred Europe and shaken the West.
With no end in sight for the war, Mr Sunak will urge his fellow world leaders to ‘move faster’ in arming Ukraine’s troops as the battle against Vladimir Putin’s forces continues.
‘For Ukraine to win this war – and to accelerate that day – they must gain a decisive advantage on the battlefield. That is what it will take to shift Putin’s mindset. This must be our priority now. Instead of an incremental approach, we need to move faster on artillery, armour, and air defence,’ Mr Sunak is expected to tell world leaders in a virtual meeting.
Ukraine has been coping with the devastation of the Russian invasion for a year (pictured, Mariupol last April)
Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded for fighter jets on a tour of Europe that started in the UK earlier this month (pictured)
‘The coming weeks will be difficult for Ukraine, but they will also be difficult for Russia. They are over-reaching once again. So now is the time to support Ukraine’s plan to re-arm, regroup, and push forward.’
Crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square in London to mark the anniversary on Thursday evening, where Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and other speakers praised the bravery of Ukrainian fighters.
In his interviews, Mr Wallace said Russia has been forced to adopt a ‘meat-grinder approach’ after its forces failed to make a breakthrough in Ukraine.
Mr Wallace said the Russian army was suffering ‘huge losses’ on the battlefield for very little gain in territory.
‘It will move effectively to a meat-grinder approach where it just keeps sacrificing its own soldiers for the vanity of the Kremlin
‘That’s why we see huge losses amongst the Russian army and only gains, where we see gains, in metres not miles.’
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