Training of Ukrainian Pilots on F-16 fighter jets, scheduled to begin in June, has been deferred with no new date in sight.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that training of pilots and technical personnel on F-16 fighter jets which was supposed to commence last month, has been “shifted.” He did not specify a new date.
The U.S. currently does not plan to transfer F-16s to Ukraine but supports their supply from other countries.
“I assumed that the training was supposed to start in June, as we were initially promised. The pilots did not start training in June. This means that the training schedule is starting to shift,” Kuleba stated on the United News.
In June, the U.S. reportedly received a request from Denmark to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. Washington will work closely with allies to carry out this exercise and will support the Netherlands and Denmark, which lead a European coalition to conduct training for Ukrainian pilots on Western combat aircraft.
“There was a promise to start training in June from one of the countries, now they say that they continue preparing for the start of training, they got their calculations wrong and need more time. But we do not have time, so we will accelerate everything as much as possible,” the minister added.
Kuleba was previously confident that Ukraine would receive F-16s in early 2024. The delay in training could push the delivery schedule by a couple of months.
“We are working now with all parties involved, with all countries participating in aviation coalitions to speed up the process as much as possible,” the Foreign Minister added.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently expressed concerns regarding the delay in F-16 delivery. “Ukraine can get the F-16s. We have agreed, we have pressed, and we have a coalition of countries that are ready to start training for Ukrainian pilots. (But) there is no schedule for training missions, and they’re delaying it. I don’t know why they’re doing this,” Zelenskyy said during a joint press conference with visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez in Kyiv on July 1.