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Training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets to start this summer – Dutch Defence Minister

Monday, 12 June 2023, 18:40

Kajsa Ollongren, Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, believes that Ukrainian pilots could begin training on US F-16 fighter jets as early as this summer.

Source: European Pravda with reference to an interview given by Ollongren to Reuters

Earlier, the Netherlands had stated that they intended to start training Ukrainian pilots "as soon as possible" but did not specify when the training might start. "[The start of the training – ed.] this summer is our ambition. And we'll see if that's realistic," Ollongren said.


Two anonymous sources informed Reuters that the training will begin with two 12-person groups of Ukrainian pilots who already have experience of flying Soviet MiG fighter jets.

Ollongren added that the fighter jet coalition aims to organise the F-16 fighter jet training programme for Ukrainian pilots during the next six months. Denmark will likely be chosen as the location for the training, as it has the necessary flight simulators.

The West discusses supplying Ukraine with both F-16 and F-18 fighter jets

Ollongren says Belgium and Luxembourg will join the training programme, and France and the UK have offered their help.

The Netherlands have yet to make a final decision concerning Kyiv’s request for F-16 fighter jets. At the same time, F-16s will bring Ukraine closer to NATO military potential, which "is very important for the future".

"When the war is over Ukraine has to be able to defend itself to deter Russia from trying again. And I think… that's what the Ukrainians also see. It is a very strong weapons system. It's a very strong capability. But it's not going to be available anytime soon and President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy, of course, knows that," the minister stated.

Usually it takes about 2.5 years to become a fighter pilot in the Netherlands. But an anonymous US official told Reuters that the basic F-16 training could take only four months for an experienced Ukrainian pilot.

Background: In May, the UK announced the launch of an international coalition of countries aimed at training Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation fighter jets, including F-16s.

At least eight European countries are included in the fighter jet coalition – the UK, the Netherlands, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal and France.

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