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Politico: Romania could host F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots

by The Kyiv Independent news desk June 22, 2023 3:04 AM 2 min read
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A coalition of Western countries is considering Romania as a possible site for F-16 fighter jet training for Ukrainian pilots, three anonymous Western officials told Politico.  

Current and former Pentagon officials told Politico that the group "is working to negotiate a contract to conduct the aircraft training at a site in Romania" and that it is likely "Lockheed Martin, which builds the F-16, would conduct the training."

According to the sources, NATO countries are also "moving closer to starting a program that could see the warplanes above Ukrainian skies within months," Politico reported on June 21.

In May, the U.S. and several European countries agreed to build an international coalition to help procure F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine and train Ukrainian fighter pilots.

On June 12, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Netherlands and other allies were hoping to start F-16 fighter jet training for Ukrainian pilots this summer.

"This summer is our ambition. And we'll see if that's realistic,"  Ollongren said, adding that the program would ideally be fully operational within six months.

The training program, which has been backed by the U.S., also includes Belgium and Luxembourg. France and the U.K. have also offered their assistance, Ollongren added.

According to the defense minister, Denmark is one possible location for the training program, given that F-16 flight simulators are located there.

Ukraine's allies are hoping that supplying weapons like more advanced fighter jets will not only bolster Ukraine's chances of victory in the war against Russia but also discourage any future aggression from Russia.

Editorial: Arming Ukraine won’t escalate war. Reluctance to do so will
First it was the tanks, now it’s the fighter jets. As Ukraine braces for another possible major Russian offensive in the upcoming weeks, Western leaders are yet again coming up with a variety of excuses why this time, they cannot justify supplying F-16 and F-35 fighter jets to Ukraine.
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