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Air Force: Ukrainian pilots undergoing training nearly ready to fly F-16s

by Dominic Culverwell October 22, 2023 6:44 PM 2 min read
F-16 Tiger Demo Team performs on the first day of NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days in Czechia on Sept. 16, 2023. (Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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The first group of Ukrainian pilots are almost ready to move from F-16 flight simulators to combat planes, Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat said in a televised address on Oct. 22, Ukrinform reported.

"We expect that the first group of F-16 pilots, who are already training on flight simulators today, will transfer to the cockpit of a training and combat aircraft in the near future,” Ihnat said.

The pilots “did their homework” and quickly mastered the training program, the spokesperson noted.

Instructors will initially accompany the pilots before they embark on their own independent flights.

The first flights with instructors could begin in a few weeks, Ihnat said on Oct. 12.

Ukrainians will train on real F-16s at centers in Romania and the U.S. but are unlikely to use the aircraft on the battlefield before next spring, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on Oct. 11.

The Netherlands and Denmark are leading the allied efforts to provide Ukraine with the fourth-generation American jets.

Amsterdam announced last week that it will send over a dozen F-16 jets to the training center in Romania so that Ukrainian pilots can begin training on the aircraft within weeks.

The Dutch and Danish efforts are part of a broader "fighter jet coalition" to provide training for Ukrainian pilots and technical staff.

Washington will also play a leading role in the coalition.

Denmark said it will provide 19 F-16 fighter jets, the Netherlands promised 42, and Norway has pledged up to 10.

Belgium announced it will deliver jets from 2025, but has not disclosed how many.

Austin: F-16s could arrive in Ukraine as early as next spring
“As we look at what it will take to provide initial capability, this will take months, as we’ve said before. The earliest is next spring when we can begin to see additional capability,” Austin said in response to a question from the Kyiv Independent at a press conference in Brussels on Oct. 11.
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