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White House: Ukraine to receive F-16 fighter jets after pilots complete training

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 18, 2023 5:17 PM 2 min read
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2023. (Photo by JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images)
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The U.S. will greenlight the transfer of F-16 fighter jets by third countries to Ukraine after Ukrainian pilots complete their training on the aircraft, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said on Aug. 18.

"What we did this week is formalized through a letter from Secretary Blinken to his counterparts in Europe, that upon the completion of that training, the United States would be prepared in consultation with Congress to approve a third-party transfer of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine," Sullivan said during a press briefing.

The U.S. official added that Washington is working closely with European partners on all elements of the training program, including manuals.

Reuters reported earlier on Aug. 18 that according to an unnamed U.S. official, Washington has given the green light to Denmark and the Netherlands on sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to defend against Russian aggression as soon as pilot training is completed.

The information was later confirmed by the Danish and Dutch governments.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken said the U.S. backs both the transfer of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine and the comprehensive training of Ukrainian pilots under the guidance of F-16 instructors.

Kuleba: F-16 fighter jets may arrive as soon as pilots complete training
Ukraine could receive F-16 fighter jets around the same time when Ukrainian pilots complete their training on the aircraft, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, Interfax-Ukraine reported on Aug. 17.

During the Vilnius NATO summit in July, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced the official formation of a coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, led by Denmark and the Netherlands.

The coalition plans to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s in August in Denmark, and a training center will also be set up in Romania.

However, according to the Washington Post, the training of the first six Ukrainian pilots will not be completed until the summer of 2024.

The Ukrainian servicemen first have to undergo English lessons in the U.K. to learn the terminology needed to fly the jets, while the combat training itself is expected to start only by January next year, the news outlet reported, citing Ukrainian officials.

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