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Media: Ukrainian pilots start F-16 training in US

by Martin Fornusek October 25, 2023 11:37 PM 1 min read
U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly in formation during U.S.-Philippines joint air force exercises dubbed Cope Thunder at Clark Air Base on May 9, 2023, in Mabalacat, Philippines. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
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Ukrainian pilots have begun training to fly F-16 fighter jets at a U.S. air base in Arizona, the Air & Space Forces Magazine reported on Oct. 25, citing a statement by the U.S. Air Force's spokesperson.

A small number of Ukrainian aviators have reportedly started learning "F-16 fundamentals" with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing earlier this week, the magazine said.

"The training curriculum will align with the foundational knowledge and skills of each pilot and is expected to last several months," the spokesperson said in a statement provided to the magazine.

Politico reported on Oct. 13 that the training of Ukrainian pilots is scheduled to begin at Arizona's Morris Air National Guard Base, as first aviators had passed the language courses needed to operate the aircraft.

The Ukrainian crews will reportedly first learn the basics of operating F-16s in classrooms and simulators before moving on to actually flying the jets, Politico said.

While this is a standard procedure for any Air Force pilot training, the sessions for Ukrainian pilots may be accelerated so that they can return to the battlefield as early as possible, one of Politico's sources commented.

On Oct. 11, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the U.S. would join Denmark and the Netherlands in leading the coalition of countries training Ukrainian pilots. The "fighter jet coalition" was first established by 11 founding nations in July at the Vilnius NATO summit.

Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium also agreed to supply their own aircraft to bolster Ukraine's Air Force.

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