Lockheed Martin ramps up F-16 production over Ukraine
America's Lockheed Martin is poised to ramp up production of F-16 fighter jets to meet rising demand as Ukraine's allies seek to supply the planes to help defend against Russia. Frank St. John, the company's chief operating officer, told the Financial Times.
John said the firm “will ramp up F-16 production in Greenville, South Carolina, to where we can pretty well support any countries that decide to transfer to third countries to help in the current conflict”.
Until now, the US has refused to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine or allow them to be transferred from third countries.
Frank John told the FT that there had been “a lot of talk about transfers of F-16s from third countries”, in which countries would “re-export their US-made fighters” to Ukraine. However, the Financial Times reported that the company was “not directly involved in negotiations” over a potential supply of military aircraft to Kyiv.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Ukraine’s partners to provide longer-range missiles and F-16 fighter jets during his speech at a meeting at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany on January 20.
Discussions on providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets have been renewed after the US and Germany decided to supply main battle tanks to Zelenskyi’s army.
On January 19, Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra said the country’s government would consider providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets “if Kyiv requests it.”