Defence secretary Ben Wallace has said it could be years before the UK gives any fighter jets to Ukraine.
The cabinet minister suggested it was that likely president Volodymyr Zelensky may even have to wait until the war with Russia was over before British aircraft was supplied.
“I don’t think it’s going to be in the next few months or even years that we are going to necessarily hand over fighter jets,” he said.
“These are aircraft that come with not only huge sort of capability challenges, you know, you just can’t learn to fly in a week or two, it will take a long time.”
“But also they come with effectively a pit crew … They come with hundreds of engineers and pilots and that’s not something you can just generate in a few months.
In pointed remarks, he added: “We’re not going to deploy, you know, 200 RAF personnel into Ukraine in the time of a war.”
Mr Wallace, who is in Brussels for a meeting of Nato defence ministers, admitted he faced an “uphill battle” with chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Treasury over military spending.
But he dismissed reports he would resign if he does not get enough money for Ministry of Defence in the spring budget. “I think first and foremost, most important thing is that I present a good case to the chancellor, a good case to the prime minister,” he told Sky News.
The defence secretary also described reports in the German media about Nato chiefs asking Germany to stay in charge of the organisation’s rapid-reaction force are “just b*****ks”.
The UK will be taking over the leadership of the Nato Response Force (NRF) at the end of 2023. However, reports in the German media claim that Nato has asked Berlin to remain in charge for an extra year because of the depleting British reserves.
Mr Wallace told BBC Breakfast: “The story of Germany, it’s just b*****ks, right? I mean, to be honest, the simple reality is Nato leadership did not approach anybody. We are taking over the NRF as scheduled and it’s interesting that story is based on a source on a German website I’ve never heard of.
The defence secretary has said he is “certainly confident” the UK could deal with the mystery objects shot down over the US, amid concerns that China has launched a series of spying missions.
He also said he is hopeful China is not hacking the UK’s CCTV cameras. “Well, they’re not hopefully… I don’t think they are hacking our sensitive CCTV cameras and we take every effort to protect areas that are sensitive from anybody hacking it.”
The senior Tory minister also said he does not see “any signs” of UFOs when asked about objects shot down by fighter jets over North America in the past week.
He told Times Radio: “I’ve asked for a look at all the intelligence and an analysis of what’s going on, above us in our airspace in the United Kingdom, but also sharing information with our allies.
“Apparently, our skies have quite a lot of balloons in them, quite a lot of times of the year … So, I think we’ll just need to get the details and I’ll share whatever I can publicly, but I don’t see any signs of ET.”
Asked if he gets any briefings on UFOs, Mr Wallace said: “I’m waiting to discover that we actually have in Britain a sort of Area 52 or whatever they call it. No-one has given me a file saying, ‘Actually in 1964, we, you know, we discovered aliens and it’s a state secret’.”