US President Joe Biden has given the green light for the training of Ukrainian pilots on the US-made F-16 fighter jets.
Sabrina Singh, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary, has stated that.
“Denmark and the Netherlands are taking the lead on training. We have, and the President has given the green light to allow and support the training to move forward. But I just don’t have any further updates at this time when it comes to specific pilots being trained”.Sabrina Singh, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary
8 Ukrainian pilots are ready to start training on F-16
The first group of Ukrainian pilots that will participate in F-16 training have been identified. According to Politico, 8 Ukrainian pilots are ready to start training on F-16. All of them are fluent in English.
Another 20 Ukrainian pilots with some language knowledge will attend language courses in the United Kingdom, probably in August, the media reports, quoting an unnamed US official. A total of 32 pilots have been selected.
Denmark and Romania will host F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots
NATO countries Denmark and the Netherlands are leading an international coalition effort to train Ukrainian pilots and support staff, maintain aircraft, and eventually supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.
A fighter jet coalition of 11 NATO nations will help Ukrainians learn how to fly the F16s, with much of the training expected in Romania and Denmark. Romania confirmed it will host F-16 training for Ukrainians in a new NATO pilot training centre in the country to operate F-16 fighter jets.
Training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters may take 6 months, but the exact time frame is still to be confirmed.
Who joined Ukraine’s fighter jet coalition?
11 European countries have officially joined the fighter jet coalition, with the list expected to grow. It includes the UK, France, Denmark, Romania, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Portugal, and others.
The US may deliver F-16s to Ukraine by the end of the year
The Western nations may transfer F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in early 2024, but the specific timing has yet to be determined.
However, the United States may deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine by the end of this year. This was stated by White House Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby in July.
“F-16s will be delivered to Ukraine, most likely, by the end of the year. But we do not believe that F-16s alone will make a difference”, John Kirby stated.
US defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin said it was ready to help Ukrainian pilots fly and maintain its F-16 fighter jets if NATO member states agree to send them to help the country against Russian aggression.
Why does Ukraine need Western fighter jets?
In January 2023, the spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, said that Ukraine needed 200 F-16s to protect its airspace fully. This is the benchmark to be aimed at. However, the reality is that Ukraine will initially receive at most 40-50 Western aircraft.
The number and service life of the aircraft available to the Ukrainian Air Force, a Soviet inheritance, is running out. There is nowhere to wait for a replacement for analogues, and there is no need to because they are inferior in all respects to Western models.
The advantage of Western aircraft is their modern systems and sensors, which give them a significant advantage in the sky. However, it is essential to understand that Ukraine is on a course to join NATO, so obtaining NATO weapons is part of the process of Euro-Atlantic integration.
How will F-16 jets protect Ukraine?
Russia is increasingly using guided bombs against Ukrainian border towns. The planes do not fly close to the border and bomb civilians from a safe distance with impunity.
Ukrainian Armed Forces will only have a way to counter such tactics once they receive F-16 universal combat aircraft from the West.
Although they will not be a panacea for all Russian air attacks, they can close many gaps in the defence of Ukrainian skies. Ukraine insists that the main guarantee of safe skies is modern Western aircraft. The F-16 provision is a quick and effective solution.
The range of tasks that F-16 jets will perform in Ukraine is also quite wide. First, it will strengthen Ukraine’s air defence, as the F16 is an ideal hunter for Russian combat drones.
Secondly, the long-range missiles used on F-16s will help the Ukrainian Army to destroy Russian equipment and logistics. The war is far from over, and in early 2024, the renewed Ukrainian Air Force may surprise the Russians, ending their superiority in the air.