US Schedules Training of Ukrainian Pilots on F-16s

Crews also will learn how to maintain the fighter jets
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2023 6:00 PM CDT
US Sets Training of Ukrainian Fighter Pilots
US-made F-16 fighter jets fly over Poland's capital as they take part in a military parade to celebrate Polish Army Day, marking the 1920 battle in which Polish troops defeated advancing Bolshevik forces, in Warsaw on Aug. 15.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The Pentagon announced Thursday that Ukrainian fighter jet pilots will begin training on US-made F-16s in Arizona, starting in October. The pilots and support personnel will complete English language education at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, in September, then go to Morris Air National Guard Base to learn to maintain and fly the aircraft, the Financial Times reports. The US program will supplement training taking place in Europe, especially by Denmark and the Netherlands, which have pledged to supply F-16s to Ukraine for its defense against Russia's invasion.

US military officials caution that operating a squadron of F-16s requires years of training, suggesting the program won't significantly affect the Ukrainians' war effort for a while, per the AP. "This is about the long-term support to Ukraine," a Pentagon spokesman said at a briefing. "This is not about the counteroffensive that they're conducting right now." The training curriculum will depend on the crews' experience levels, said Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, per the Arizona Republic. The US doesn't know how many personnel Ukraine is sending, but Ryder said the Pentagon anticipates training several pilots and dozens of maintenance crew members. (Read more Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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