Britain will not send modern fighter jets to Ukraine because of how difficult it is, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee has claimed. Tory MP Alicia Kearns told Express.co.uk there is “just no way” Britain can provide Ukraine with its advanced F-35 jets because it is “they are too complicated, too costly and we have not got enough of them”. Instead, she has called for the Government to “focus on helicopters” which would be a “game changer” for President Volodymyr Zelensky.
President Zelensky has increased calls for his European allies to send jets to his forces. And recently, Rishi Sunak announced “nothing is off the table” in terms of Ukraine’s assistance to Ukraine.
But the MP for Rutland and Melton said there is “no way” Britain can give the modern jets, such as the F-35, or even its “very old” jets because of how tricky it will be for Ukraine to integrate the new hardware.
She said it could take years before Ukrainian pilots can effectively use F-35 jets. She emphasised how even training British troops to use new Apache helicopters, which are “nowhere near as complicated” as F-35s, takes years.
Ms Kearns added: “So, ignore F-35s, they are too complicated, too costly and we haven’t got enough of them. There’s just no way that they can be given.”
She also warned it could take months to train Ukraine to use older Typhoons, time which the West doesn’t have.
Ms Kearns said: “If we were to give a jet… We have got Typhoons. Typhoons are very old, but we could give them.
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“Even if you took Ukrainian fighter jet pilots who are experts in this, it would take six months to train them up on Typhoons.”
Instead, she said the Government should be trying to encourage Poland to send over its Mil Mi-24 helicopters, which the Ukrainians are already trained with. It would “only take a few weeks to get them [Ukraine] up to speed,” she said.
The politician added that these helicopters could be armed to the teeth with Britain’s most advanced missiles.
Another problem with sending modern jets, according to Ms Kearns, is that you have to strip out all the NATO gear.
However, Mil Mi-24 helicopters, made in East Europe during the Soviet era are “so old” that they don’t have as much NATO equipment on them.
“If we were to give them our jets, which are all completely NATO operable, we would have to strip out all the NATO equipment,” she said.
She warned how they contain “secret” and “discrete” NATO capabilities that would be handed over to Putin if his forces were to shoot one down. “That is something we cannot afford,” she added.
“Mi 24s… crack on… not a problem. They’re all so old that they haven’t got a load of NATO stuff,” Ms Hearns said.
“We should be focused on giving them some helicopters with exceptional missiles on.
“Ukraine hasn’t been flying jets… So jets will be a fundamental shift on the ground. But I actually think it’s about helicopters.”
So far, Rishi Sunak announced Britain would offer training to Ukrainian pilots to fly modern warplanes but is yet to confirm if it will send jets.
They are reportedly likely to be trained on RAF Hawks, Typhoons and F-35s.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is understood to be “actively looking” at whether planes can be sent to Ukraine, according to Downing Street.