The United States has declared its intention to commence training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter aircraft from the upcoming month. The program, slated to begin in September, will see Ukrainian pilots first undergo English language instruction before delving into the intricacies of operating these advanced fighters.
Speaking from Washington, DC, Pentagon spokesperson Pat Ryder revealed that the training initiative, to be conducted in Texas and Arizona, will encompass “several” pilots and involve “dozens” of personnel responsible for aircraft maintenance.
The White House confirmed that President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conferred on the training program, with President Biden underscoring the enduring US commitment to bolster Ukraine’s defense against Russian aggression and ensure accountability for Russia’s actions.
The scope of the US plan aligns with the efforts of European allies Denmark and the Netherlands, who are contributing F-16 fighter jets and training to Ukraine. Norway and Greece have also joined this coalition of nations offering both aircraft and training support.
In a recent interview with Jordan’s Al-Mamlaka public service TV news channel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley projected that Ukraine would acquire the fighter jets “in the not-too-distant future.” He highlighted that these aircraft would enhance Ukraine’s defensive capabilities and provide impetus for its counteroffensive against Russian forces in the eastern regions of the country.
“Milley underscored the resilience of Ukrainian forces against well-prepared Russian reinforcements, emphasizing the complex defensive measures they are encountering. He acknowledged that the situation is ongoing, asserting that while there has been some success, progress has been slower than initially anticipated”.
“Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces are undergoing rigorous training across Europe, focusing on offensive formations, combined arms maneuvers, and overcoming complex obstacles to enhance their capabilities”.
“The US Army general projected that it would take several more months before Ukraine could fully utilize the benefits of the new fighter jets. Ryder indicated that the training duration for the F-16s would range between five to eight months, depending on the pilots’ pre-existing skills. Stressing the significance of language training, Ryder noted that mastering the specialized English required for flying these aircraft was paramount due to the intricate nature of their operation”.