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Politico: Ukrainian pilots expected to start F-16 training in US next week

by Martin Fornusek October 13, 2023 10:21 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 are expected to begin training on F-16 fighter jets at an air base in Tuscon, Arizona, in the next week, Politico reported on Oct. 13, citing four U.S. officials.

A small number of pilots who have passed their first English language tests after courses in Texas are heading to Morris Air National Guard Base in Arizona to learn to fly the aircraft, one of the officials said.

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.

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 said.

The Pentagon officially confirmed in late September that the language classes for Ukrainian pilots officially began in the U.S.

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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