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Minister: Belgium to train Ukrainian pilots, provide F-16s for training

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 15, 2023 8:06 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. (Photo credit: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
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Belgium has confirmed its participation in the international coalition to train Ukrainian personnel on F-16 fighter jets, Belgian Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder said in a statement on Sept. 15.

Six Ukrainian instructors and four mission planning specialists will undergo training in Belgium to then teach pilots in Ukraine, according to Dedonder. In addition, Belgium’s Defense Ministry will send three instructors to a training center for Ukrainian pilots in Denmark.

In 2024, Belgium will deploy two F-16B aircraft in Denmark for advanced training,  the official said.  A contingent of about 50 Belgian soldiers, primarily technical personnel, will support the deployment.

On Aug. 22, the first Ukrainian pilots began training on F-16 fighter jets in Denmark. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said it would take at least six to seven months before Ukrainian pilots and technicians can operate the aircraft.

On July 11, Reznikov first reported that Belgium was one of the 11 countries to form the fighter jet coalition, a group of 11 countries that pledged to assist Kyiv with training its pilots on F-16s and acquiring the aircraft.

Greece and the U.S. have also pledged to join the training efforts. So far, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway have promised to provide dozens of their own F-16s to bolster the Ukrainian Air Force.

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