Polish President Andrzej Duda called on NATO countries to train Ukrainian pilots on U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets, saying that the pilots will want to be trained "to the NATO standard."
“The training of Ukrainian pilots is important and it is quite necessary,” Duda said in an interview to CNN on March 8.
Two Ukrainian fighter pilots are currently already in the U.S., where the speed and effectiveness of training on various military aircraft including F-16 jets is reportedly being assessed, CNN reported on March 6.
According to an unnamed U.S. official cited by CNN, the pilots will not be flying real aircraft, only using simulators during the visit.
Berlin, which has pledged dozens of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, has firmly rejected any possibility of doing the same with fighter jets.
Though no country has yet promised to provide jets to Ukraine, Ukrainian Defense Oleksii Reznikov is "certain" that the decision to deliver them would come eventually, he said in a March 3 interview to German newspaper Bild.
“The question of combat aircraft does not arise at all,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Jan. 29.
Other countries have shown more openness to the idea. On Feb. 10, Ukraine officially requested F-16 multirole fighter jets from the Netherlands, which had earlier said that the country was willing to look into the feasibility of such a delivery.
During President Zelensky's Feb. 8 visit to London, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said that "nothing is off the table" when it comes to military aid for Ukraine.
Of all the available models, Ukraine has shown the most interest in the U.S.-built F-16, in service since the 1970s and operated by over 20 nations.
Other models assessed to be a good fit for Ukraine include French Rafale, Swedish Gripen, and Eurofighter Typhoon jets.