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Pentagon: Ukrainian pilots expected to complete F-16 later this year

by Dmytro Basmat January 5, 2024 4:49 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. (AFP via Getty Images)
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Editor's Note: The initial version of the headline said that Ukrainian pilots would finish training "by end of 2024."

Ukrainian pilots currently undergoing F-16 fighter jet training in the United States are expected to complete their training later in 2024, a U.S. Defense Department spokesperson said in a press briefing on Jan. 4, without providing the exact date.

"I would expect sometime later this year we start to see those pilots graduate," said Brigadier General Pat Ryder, adding that it will take between five to eight months to complete the training, depending on an individual pilot's skill level.

Ukrainian pilots continue their training on the aircraft with U.S. instructors at an airbase in Arizona. The Ukrainians pilots began their training in late October by learning the basics of operating F-16s in classrooms and simulators before moving on to actually flying the jets. Ryder did not comment on how far along the pilots were in their training.

Earlier on Thursday, Belgium confirmed it will send two F-16 fighter jets and 50 training personnel to Denmark from March to September to support the training of Ukrainian pilots in the country. In addition to the United States, Ukrainian pilots are undergoing or will undergo F-16 training in Romania, Denmark, France, and the United Kingdom.

The Netherlands and Norway have also previously agreed to supply their own aircraft to bolster Ukraine's Air Force.

It is unclear when the first F-16s will actually arrive and be operational in Ukraine. Some Ukrainian lawmakers have suggested that they will not be in operation until late spring in the best-case scenario.

Belgium to send F-16 fighter jets to Denmark for Ukrainian pilots training
The training program will include instruction for Ukrainian pilots, technicians, and mission planners.
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