U.S. Says its Open to Training Ukrainian F-16 Pilots

  • Defensemirror.com Bureau
  • 04:26 AM, August 22, 2023
  • 715
U.S. Says its Open to Training Ukrainian F-16 Pilots
F-16 combat jet @Ukraine MoD

The U.S. said it is ready and willing to participate in the training of Ukrainian pilots on the F-16, as confirmed by Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh at a press conference earlier today.

"[We're] open to training existing pilots if capacity is reached in Europe," Singh said. "That's the condition. So, if Denmark and the Netherlands are taking the lead on training, if they just do not have the capacity ... to train as many pilots as Ukraine wants to send or plans to send, then we will ... help train stateside."

Last week, in a letter from Secretary of State Antony Blinken to counterparts in Europe, the U.S. signaled its willingness to approve the third-party transfer of U.S.-made F-16 aircraft to Ukraine.

Both the Netherlands and Denmark have announced their intentions to make F-16 aircraft from their own fleets available to Ukraine.

The U.S. approval for the transfer will come after consultation with Congress and after completion of training for Ukrainian pilots on the aircraft.

"In order for the third-party transfer to be completed, there are certain criteria that have to be met, including the English language training [and] other things like logistics on the ground," she said. "So once that criteria [are] met, we'll be in a position to authorize the transfer."

She said the Ukrainian pilots will need to go though "significant English-language training," to be ready to fly the F-16, and that will take some time.

Related news: Netherlands, Denmark to Send 61 F-16s to Ukraine

Additionally, the total number of pilots who will need training will be determined by the Ukrainians.

"Ukraine will be the one, and I think it is still putting together how many pilots they have that are going to be able to be trained," she said. "I don't have those numbers yet."

Learning pilot skills could take about six months, plus about another four months for the pilot crews to learn technical English to the required standard.

The Netherlands and Denmark have F-16AM (Block 20 MLU) fighter jets. This modernization is equivalent to Block 50/52. Modernization work was carried out on F-16A/B fighter aircraft to improve their specifications.

F-16AM (Block 20 MLU) fighter jets were able to use radar-guided air-to-air missiles and generally received improved specifications.

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