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Reznikov: F-16 training coalition of 11 countries officially formed

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 11, 2023 7:55 PM 2 min read
Ukraine's Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov and allies during a meeting at the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11, 2023. 
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An international coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets has been formed, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on July 11.

At the NATO summit in Vilnius, Reznikov signed a memorandum outlining the training terms with 11 coalition members.

Those are Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

"I'm especially grateful to Denmark and the Netherlands for their outstanding leadership in this process," the defense minister added.

According to Reznikov, Ukrainian pilots, technicians, and support staff will learn to operate and maintain F-16 jets and possibly other types of combat aircraft.

The program will start in Denmark as early as this August, and a training hub will also be set up in Romania, allies announced at the summit, Reuters reported.

"We have to defend our civilian population, our infrastructure, critical objects, our schools, our universities. That's why for us it is very important that this fighter jet coalition starts up," Reznikov told reporters, as cited by Reuters.

"I hope - I am an optimist - that after six months, we will see results."

In May, allies agreed to build the coalition to help procure the U.S.-built F-16 jets for Ukraine and train Ukrainian fighter pilots.

Ukraine has received Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and Slovakia but has been pushing for more advanced aircraft. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has previously said it requires at least 48 F-16 fighter jets to liberate territory 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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