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Uncertainties surround anticipated F-16 training

by Daria Bevziuk August 2, 2023 6:05 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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US officials are waiting on European leaders to submit a definitive plan for training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, which the US must authorize, CNN reported on Aug. 1.

The start of the program is contingent upon receiving authorization from the US. For example, the transfer of F-16  equipment and materials, including flight simulators and training manuals, requires US authorization. However, the Biden administration has yet to receive the final training plan from European leaders.

The specific countries that will contribute F-16 jets for training and Ukraine after the program's completion remains uncertain. Securing separate approval from the US is necessary for transferring the planes to Ukraine.

The timeline for the Ukrainian training program accelerates the standard US Air Force pilot training by omitting certain missions and tasks, such as air-to-air refueling and instrument landing procedures, that are not essential for Ukrainian pilots on the battlefield.

Another critical challenge Ukrainian pilots must overcome is attaining English-language proficiency. The Air Force memo emphasized that the pilots' English aptitude is a cause for concern and additional language training will be essential for most of the initial cadre of pilots

A number of countries formed a coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s at the recent NATO summit in Vilnius. The program is scheduled to commence in Denmark as soon as this month, with plans to establish a training hub in Romania.

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