The defence secretary is to investigate what jets the UK could send to Ukraine after President Zelensky called for planes to help the war effort in an address to MPs.
Before the Ukrainian leader arrived in London, Rishi Sunak announced Britain would train fighter pilots.
No 10 has now said that Ben Wallace has been “tasked with investigating what jets we may be able to send (to Ukraine). No decision has been taken on that.”
Downing Street described their approach as a “multi-year” and emphasised that it currently takes 5 years to train a pilot in the UK.
No 10 also said it was in discussion with other Western allies about the provision of fighter jets.
The first pilots are due to arrive in the UK in the spring.
President Zelensky urged Britain to send fighter jets to Ukraine to defend against the Russian invasion, ahead of an expected Russian offensive.
In a speech to parliament, the Ukrainian president thanked Britain “in advance for powerful English planes”, which he has repeatedly asked for in a bid to gain advantage over Vladimir Putin’s forces in the skies.
Speaking to parliament after meeting Mr Zelensky, the prime minister said the UK must ensure a “decisive military victory” for Ukraine.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said ministers wanted pilot training to start “as soon as possible”. “I think we are keen to do whatever is possible to get these pilots trained up as fast as possible. But these are complex pieces of military equipment. And as you know the current training period for UK pilots is around five years.”
“We think this is right to provide both short-term equipment like Challenger tanks, additional guns, longer-range capabilities that can help win the war now, but also look to the medium-to-long term to ensure Ukraine has every possible capability it requires.”
He added: “The Prime Minister has tasked the Defence Secretary with investigating what jets we might be able to give but, to be clear, this is a long-term solution rather than a short-term capability, which is what Ukraine needs most now.”
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