Pentagon Plans to Begin Training Ukrainian Pilots on F-16s in U.S.

The Pentagon plans to start coaching Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets in america as early as September, a U.S. official mentioned on Thursday.

Protection Division officers mentioned final week that Ukrainian pilots could be skilled in america if European nations, led by the Netherlands and Denmark, that are main a coalition to coach dozens of pilots, reached capability. However the strategy is now altering to additionally convey Ukrainian pilots for coaching in america as quickly as Ukraine identifies them.

It was unclear whether or not america would practice pilots initially destined for European coaching applications or this might be an extra group.

The choice was anticipated to be introduced on Thursday afternoon, timed to Ukraine’s Independence Day.

However, it is going to be months but, no less than, earlier than the F-16s are despatched to battle. It was solely final Thursday that an American official mentioned that the Biden administration would permit allies to ship the American-designed jets to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s protection minister, Oleksii Reznikov, predicted earlier this week that it will take six to seven months earlier than F-16s have been despatched to Ukraine, following coaching for the nation’s pilots and vital assist workers. Meaning the planes is not going to play a task in Ukraine’s present counteroffensive.

The pilots will first obtain English language coaching in Texas after which start months of flight coaching in Arizona, mentioned the U.S. official who addressed the problem on Thursday, talking on situation of anonymity to debate future coaching plans.

A small variety of Ukrainian pilots had acquired coaching in america previous to a call by President Biden in Could to permit European international locations with U.S.-made F-16s to coach Ukrainian aviators.

This previous winter, the U.S. Air Power hosted two Ukrainian pilots who had flown Soviet-era jets to see how they might fare on the F-16. In an evaluation dated March 22, Air Power officers concluded that no less than some Ukrainian pilots could possibly be skilled to fly the F-16 in 4 to 5 months.

The evaluation was based mostly on a 12-day analysis of the 2 Ukrainian pilots who underwent flight simulations on the Morris Air Nationwide Guard Base in Tucson, Ariz., over the winter. It discovered that the 2 pilots nonetheless wanted sure technical expertise, together with understanding the Western cockpit’s devices and turning into snug flying in American-standard formation with different plane.

Norway mentioned on Thursday that it will donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, in what would make it the third NATO nation to take action after the Netherlands and Denmark. And Portugal mentioned it additionally would practice Ukrainian pilots and engineers to fly or preserve the F-16s.

With the brand new dedication, President Volodymyr Zelensky has estimated that Ukraine would obtain no less than 61 F-16s — sufficient for as many as 4 squadrons.

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