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Some F-16s donated to Ukraine will be stored abroad as reserves, top officer says

by Kateryna Denisova and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 10, 2024 11:03 AM 2 min read
F-16 fighter jets during a military parade in Warsaw on the day of the Polish army on Aug. 15, 2018, Warsaw, Poland. (Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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A number of F-16 fighter jets donated by Western allies to Ukraine will be stationed at air bases abroad, Serhii Holubtsov, a top officer at the Air Force Command, said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's (RFE/RL) published on June 9.

Several NATO countries – Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Norway – have pledged to deliver dozens of U.S.-made F-16 fighters from their stocks.

The first batch of Danish F-16s is expected to be handed over to Ukraine this summer.

Some of the Western aircraft will reportedly remain in training centers for Ukrainian pilots and aviation personnel outside Ukraine.

"There is a certain number of aircraft that will be stored at secure airbases outside of Ukraine so that they are not targeted here. And this will be our reserve, if necessary, to replace faulty aircraft during routine maintenance," Holubtsov said.

Ukraine already has plans for how many F-16s it will receive from allies this year and next year, according to Holubtsov. The number of aircraft located in Ukraine depends on the number of trained pilots, he said.

"The calculations have been made so that we know how many pilots we will have, how many engineers we will have, how many airfield maintenance personnel we will have," the officer added.

Several countries, including the U.S., pledged to assist Ukrainian aviators with the necessary training under the fighter jet coalition framework. The first group of Ukrainian pilots reportedly graduated from the F-16 training program in Arizona in late May and were sent to additional training in Europe.

Politico: Stalled US F-16 training program frustrates Ukraine
Over the past several weeks, Kyiv has officially requested that the U.S. train the additional pilots at the Tucson facility. The U.S. has not granted the request, citing committments to other nations in line for F-16 training at the base.

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