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Portugal has confirmed that it will join international efforts to train Ukrainian pilots and technicians on F-16 fighter jets, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Aug. 24, as reported by Interfax-Ukraine.
"Portugal is a member of our tank and aviation coalition. Today, Portugal confirmed its readiness to join the training of Ukrainian pilots and engineers on F-16 aircraft," the president said after meeting his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Kyiv.
Zelensky added that the two leaders discussed further defense cooperation, in particular the supply of armored medical vehicles and mine-clearing equipment.
"We are grateful that Portugal supported the Peace Formula, and participates in joint work with partners in the preparation of the Ukraine-Latin America and Ukraine-Africa summits," the Ukrainian president said.
During the NATO summit in Vilnius in mid-July, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov had 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 with acquiring the aircraft itself.
First Ukrainian pilots have already begun their training in Denmark. Reznikov said that he expects it will take at least six to seven months before Ukrainian pilots and technicians are ready to operate the aircraft.
So far, Denmark and the Netherlands have pledged to provide their own F-16s to bolster the Ukrainian Air Force. On Aug. 24, Norwegian news channel TV 2 reported that Oslo also plans to supply its retired U.S.-made jets.