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Borrell: Several countries start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 23, 2023 1:17 PM 2 min read
An F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft extended its landing gear to land at the U.S. military airfield at Spangdahlem. (Getty Images)
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Several countries, including Poland, have already started training Ukrainian pilots to use U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets, the European Union's chief diplomat Josep Borrell said on May 23.

"It will take time, but sooner, the better," Borrell told reporters ahead of a meeting of EU defense ministers. He didn't mention what other countries have begun the training.

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.

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.

According to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, some countries have expressed their willingness to train Ukrainian soldiers to operate Western fighter jets, and others are ready to provide the aircraft.

So far, Ukraine has received 14 Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and 13 from Slovakia.

However, Ukraine has shown the most interest in the U.S.-built F-16, which has been in service since the 1970s and operated by over 20 nations.

Critics argue that allies' reluctance to supply Western fighter jets and long-range missiles to Ukraine may prolong Russia's war of aggression and result in thousands of deaths.

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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