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Pentagon announces Biden has cleared F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots

by Olena Goncharova August 9, 2023 3:12 AM 2 min read
Portuguese Air Force F-16 fighter jets during NATO's Baltic Air Policing Mission in Lithuanian airspace near Siauliai on May 23, 2023. (Photo: AFP via Getty Images)
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Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh confirmed on Aug. 8 that U.S. President Joe Biden "has given the green light" to allow and support the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.

"Denmark and the Netherlands are taking the lead on training," Singh said, adding that she "doesn't have any further updates at this time when it comes to specific pilots being trained."

Politico reported on Aug. 4 that the first group of Ukrainian pilots that will participate in F-16 training have been identified, citing unnamed U.S. sources. Eight Ukrainian pilots fluent in English are ready to begin training on the fighter jets as soon as formal training plans are drawn up by European allies and approved by the United States.

Additionally, 20 more pilots with minimal English skills are available to start language instruction in the U.K. within the month. A total of 32 Ukrainian pilots have been named to possibly take part in the training program, yet English language competency remains a significant obstacle.

Last month, the U.S. said it will allow European countries to train Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets in a potential boon for Ukraine’s efforts to counter Russia’s air superiority.

In May, Biden had informed G7 leaders that the U.S would support a joint effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation aircraft, including F-16s, though it was unclear at the time when that training would start.

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