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VOA: F-16s are ‘exceeding expectations’ of Ukraine's pilots

by Olena Goncharova February 11, 2024 3:41 AM 2 min read
Norway's Minister of Defense, Bjørn Arild Gram, sits in the back of an F-16 aircraft at Bodø airport, Norway, where the final preparations are being made before two Norwegian F-16 aircraft are sent to Denmark to be used in the training of Ukrainian pilots on Jan. 3, 2024. (Jan Langhaug / NTB / AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukrainian pilots are "very impressed" with American-made F-16 fighter jets, the Ukrainian service of the Voice of America reported.

A pilot, identified by the call sign "Phantom," mentioned in an interview with the outlet that Ukrainian pilots undergoing training on multirole fighters in the U.S. and Europe had praised the aircraft.

Several Western allies pledged to transfer F-16 jets to Ukraine. The exact number of the jets to be delivered has not yet been announced, but The Telegraph estimated in January that the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are offering as many as 60 F-16s to Ukraine. All of the jets are around 40 years old.

On Feb. 5, the Netherlands announced that the country is preparing to send Ukraine an additional six U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. This brings the total number of jets pledged to Ukraine by the Netherlands to 24.

"Our pilots are very impressed," Ukrainian pilot interviewed by the Voice of America said. "This aircraft has simply exceeded their expectations. Even with the amount of information they have received during their training, they already see great prospects for how this aircraft will help our Air Force increase the capabilities of our combat aviation."

"Phantom" noted, however, that the process of retraining pilots on the sophisticated aircraft posed certain challenges, as many of them were accustomed to operating older Soviet-built Su-27s and MiG-29s.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced in August that the U.S. would begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 jets "in support of the international effort to develop and strengthen Ukraine's long-term defenses."

A coalition of 11 countries was established a month earlier, aimed at coordinating the delivery of fighter jets and facilitating the training of Ukraine and its pilots in their operation. Subsequently, this coalition expanded to encompass 14 countries.

The U.S. began training Ukrainian pilots in October, while the Royal Air Force of the U.K. initiated its training program in August. Pilots underwent flying and English language courses before the first group commenced specialized F-16 training in Denmark in December.

F-16s for Ukraine: When will they arrive and what can they do?
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American air superiority fighter that Kyiv has begged for since the start of the full-scale invasion and is expected to finally start receiving this year. It’s a versatile workhorse of a jet that’s fought in dozens of wars and is
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