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Ukrainian pilots could fly F-16s in three months – US Air Force

Wednesday, 13 September 2023, 03:20
Ukrainian pilots could fly F-16s in three months – US Air Force
F-16 FIGHTER JET. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The first group of pilots could finish their training on F-16 fighter jets in the United States before the end of the year, but they won’t be able to perform combat missions until later.

Source: Lieutenant General Michael Loh, Director of the US Air National Guard, quoted by AR

Details: Ukrainian pilots are expected to arrive at the US Air National Guard’s Morris Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, by October.

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These pilots are currently being tested on their English language proficiency, and depending on their knowledge and previous experience on fighter jets, they could complete their training in the US within three months, Loh said.

Quote: "As soon as they’re given a go-ahead, they’ll be coming over and they’ll start their training immediately," the director said.

According to Loh, in order to meet the tight training timeframe, Tucson is likely to shift some of its other international pilot training commitments to prioritise Ukraine, he added.

The news agency adds that after completing their training in the US, Ukrainians will need to return to Europe for additional training at NATO. NATO allies are also training the Ukrainians in aircraft maintenance, and this must be completed before the aircraft can start flying combat missions. Loh could not estimate how long the additional training would take.

According to Loh, the Air National Guard has drawn up a three-month schedule based on the training Ukrainian pilots have undergone on F-15Cs, another modern fighter jet based in Fresno, California.

Loh noted that the nine-month period is necessary for pilots who have no previous experience flying fighter jets to learn to pilot F-16s.

Reminder: In early September, the then Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated that the Armed Forces would have F-16s for front-line use in the spring of 2024.

The Ukrainian military leadership expects that its Armed Forces will be able to use F-16 fighter jets on the battlefield this winter.

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