France is training ten young Ukrainian pilots for the F-16

French Alpha Jet
French Alpha Jet

Ten Ukrainian pilots are undergoing F-16 training in France, BFM TV said on April 24.

Their training is expected to last half as long as the French pilots’ training

France will train ten Ukrainian pilots aged 20 to 22, six of whom are still in the UK learning English - essential for NATO pilots - and the basics of flying.

The other four are fluent in English and have some experience flying civilian aircraft or training on the Ukrainian Air Force's L39 trainer plane. They are currently training in air combat at an air base in southwestern France.

The new Ukrainian pilots will study the same curriculum as French pilots, but the time will be reduced by half, BMF TV wrote.

The training will take place on simulators and Alpha Jet aircraft - a two-seater twin-engine training and tactical support aircraft designed for the  French and German air forces. Trainees must fly 80 hours.

After completing the six-month course, the pilots will be introduced to flying the F-16 — either in the United States or another European country where the American planes are located.

If the pilots are trained in Europe, the technical maintenance teams, including mechanics, are likely trained in the US, BMF TV added.

Each plane requires a dozen people along with the pilots. These crews will be ready for work no earlier than the end of the year, or even in early 2025. This time will also be needed to produce the weapons necessary for aerial combat.

Read also: Ukraine’s path to F-16 acquisition: Military expert reveals key conditions

F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine

The United States has authorized Denmark and the Netherlands to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.

This was confirmed when the Netherlands and Denmark announced they would provide Ukraine with 61 F-16 aircraft — 42 and 19, respectively, on Aug. 20, 2023.

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Norway and Belgium have also confirmed their intentions to supply F-16 jets to Ukraine, with Belgium's contributions beginning in 2025.

Ukrainian pilots are still being trained on F-16 fighters in different programs worldwide, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry reported on Jan. 10.

The first 10 Ukrainian pilots completed basic flight, ground, and language training on F-16 fighters in Britain on March 22, the UK government announced. The military will now move on to advanced flight training provided by the French Air Force.

Norway will transfer F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, equipped with state-of-the-art weaponry capable of striking along the front lines, Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said on April 15.

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