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Air Force denies start of F-16 training, says preparations underway

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 23, 2023 5:57 PM 2 min read
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Ukraine's Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat refuted reports that Ukrainian pilots were already learning to fly F-16 fighter jets, saying the preparation for the program is still ongoing.

The Air Force representatives are now in those countries ready to provide the training to "study how the process will go," but pilots themselves have not arrived yet, Ihnat said on May 23, as cited by Ukrainska Pravda.

Earlier the same day, the European Union's chief diplomat Josep Borrell said several countries, including Poland, had started training Ukrainian pilots to use U.S.-built F-16 jets.

A source in the Polish government confirmed information about the F-16 training to the Ukrainian news outlet Ukrinform. An official announcement will be made soon, said the source.

"For a long time, unfortunately, I've had to refute (information) that 'pilots study in the USA, Europe,'" Ihnat said on national television. "There is no need to give any extra hope."

The U.K. and the Netherlands agreed on May 17 to build an international coalition to provide F-16s to Ukraine. On May 20, the U.S. also declared that it would join the initiative, as did Portugal and Denmark.

Some countries have expressed willingness to train Ukrainian soldiers to operate Western fighter jets, while others are ready to provide the aircraft.

On May 22, U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that training Ukrainian pilots to use F-16s and working with allies to provide Ukraine with advanced fighter jets remains a "priority" for Washington in the coming months.

Ukraine war latest: Biden pledges to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s
Key developments on May 21: * Russian attacks kill 3, injure 7 in Kherson, Donetsk, Kharkiv oblasts * U.S. to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16, says Biden * Russia hasn’t captured Bakhmut, says Zelensky * Ukrainian troops may soon encircle Bakhmut, top general says U.S. President Joe Bi…


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