Lockheed Martin has said that it’s ready to meet demands for F-16 fighter jets if the US and its allies choose to ship them to Ukraine.
So far, the US and its allies have been hesitant to send fighter jets to Ukraine due to concerns that they could be used to target Russian territory. But the Western powers seem less and less concerned about escalation as the US and Germany have now pledged to send their main battle tanks.
Frank St. John, chief operating officer of Lockheed, told Financial Times that there has been a "lot of conversation about third-party transfer of F-16s," which would involve European nations armed with the F-16 shipping them to Ukraine.
St. John said Lockheed wasn’t involved in the conversations but was preparing for the eventuality. He said the arms maker was "going to be ramping production on F-16s in Greenville [South Carolina] to get to the place where we will be able to backfill pretty capably any countries that choose to do third-party transfers to help with the current conflict."
The Netherlands expressed openness to sending its F-16s to Ukraine last week, with the Dutch foreign minister saying it would look at any requests for the aircraft with an "open mind." Another option could be for former Warsaw pact countries that are now NATO members to send their older Soviet-made MiG fighter jets to Ukraine and replace them with F-16s or other modern Western-made aircraft.