Ukrainian Air Force reacts to US report on first group of F-16 pilots finishing training


"The training process is not over, now the pilots are returning to Europe to continue their studies before coming back to Ukraine to resume their tasks," said Air Force spokesperson Ilya Yevlash on national TV on May 24.

He said that not only pilots are being trained, but also engineers who will perform tasks and share their experience with colleagues.

Yevlash stated that even two F-16 aircraft will be able to perform certain tasks in the airspace.

Read also: Ukrainian servicemen complete F-16 maintenance training in the Netherlands

Air National Guard spokeswoman Erin Hannigan said the first group of Ukrainian pilots has graduated from training on American F-16 fighter jets at a military base in Arizona. The pilots were trained at the 162nd Air National Guard Base in Tucson. Hannigan did not specify exactly how many pilots graduated or when exactly it happened, citing "safety reasons."

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F-16 fighters for Ukraine

In August 2023, the Netherlands and Denmark pledged to jointly provide Ukraine with 61 American F-16 fighter jets, following a transfer authorization from the United States.

Norway also confirmed its intention to supply F-16s, while Belgium plans to provide Ukraine with F-16s in 2025.

Read also: Ukraine needs 120-130 F-16 jets to counter Russian air power — Zelenskyy

The Netherlands initially announced preparations to transfer the first 18 aircraft to Ukraine in December, later increasing this number to 24. In total, the Netherlands has promised Kyiv 42 fighters.

The tentative timeline for delivering the fighter jets to Ukraine is the first half of 2024.

Read also: Ukraine receives first F-16 fighter jet trainer - Air Force

The first F-16s are expected to arrive in Ukraine around June 2024, according to a February 18, 2024 report from Foreign Policy, citing European officials. However, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat noted that it was impossible to specify exact dates for the transfer of F-16s by foreign partners.

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

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated on March 27 that Western F-16 fighter jets should appear in Ukraine's skies by mid-summer.

Dutch Defense Minister Kees Ollongren announced on May 6 that the Netherlands plans to start sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in the fall. Meanwhile, Danish Ambassador to Kyiv Ole Egberg Mikkelsen said that the planes would arrive this summer.

The Standard reported on May 10, citing a high-ranking military source, that the first Western F-16 fighter jets would arrive in Ukraine within a few weeks.

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