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Zelensky: France to train Ukrainian pilots on fighter jets

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk September 4, 2023 9:03 AM 1 min read
French Air and Space Force (FASF) pilots walk towards Rafale jet fighters prior to take off during the joint exercise 'Ex Garuda-VII' between Indian Air Force (IAF) and FASF, in Jodhpur in India's state of Rajasthan on Nov. 10, 2022. (Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images)
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France has joined the international coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, President Volodymyr Zelensky said after a Sept. 3 phone call with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron.

According to Zelensky, the two leaders discussed Ukraine’s military needs and France’s potential participation in strengthening security in Odesa Oblast.

Earlier on his official Telegram channel, Zelensky said the two also discussed the "active role of France" in implementing the Ukrainian peace formula ahead of the Global Peace Summit, to be held on Oct. 25-28 in New York.

Zelensky added that the two leaders had started negotiations on bilateral security guarantees for Ukraine and agreed to strengthen cooperation in protecting Ukraine’s sea routes.

On Aug. 22, the first Ukrainian pilots began training on F-16 fighter jets in Denmark. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said it would take at least six to seven months before Ukrainian pilots and technicians are ready to operate the aircraft.

During the NATO summit in Vilnius in mid-July, Reznikov announced the official formation of the "fighter jet coalition," a group of 11 countries that will assist Kyiv with training its pilots on F-16s and acquiring the aircraft.

Greece and the U.S. have also pledged to join the training efforts. So far, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway have promised to provide dozens of their own F-16s to bolster the Ukrainian Air Force.

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