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US ambassador confirms Ukrainian pilots start training on F-16s in Arizona

by Martin Fornusek October 26, 2023 10:16 PM 1 min read
F-16 Tiger Demo Team performs on the first day of NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days in Czechia on Sept. 16, 2023. Illustrative purposes only. (Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink has confirmed that Ukrainian pilots are currently training on F-16 aircraft with their U.S. instructors in Arizona in her social media post on Oct. 26.

"Ukrainian pilots are now training with the Arizona Air National Guard on F-16s. This is an essential part of building Ukraine's air defense," the ambassador wrote on the social media platform X.

"The United States is proud to work with European partners to support Ukraine against Russia's brutal aggression."

The Air & Space Forces Magazine reported a day earlier, citing the U.S. Air Force's spokesperson, that Ukrainian aviators have started learning "F-16 fundamentals" with the Arizona Air National Guard's 162nd Wing earlier this week.

The F-16 training, which is taking place at the Morris Air National Guard Base near the city of Tucson, is supposed to involve classroom and simulator time in addition to training in the air.

The timeframe of Ukrainian pilots' lessons may be reportedly shorter than the average training of a U.S. airman, however. This is to ensure that Ukraine's aviators can return to the battlefield as soon as possible, Politico reported.

Ukrainian pilots have also been undertaking language courses in Texas to familiarize themselves with the terminology needed to operate the aircraft.

According to the Washington Post, the first Ukrainian aviators are expected to be able to fly F-16s by the summer of 2024.

The U.S. announced a few weeks ago that it would join the Netherlands and Denmark in leading the coalition of countries providing F-16 training for Ukraine. Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium also agreed to supply their own aircraft to bolster Ukraine's Air Force.

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