US to start training Ukrainians for F-16s
The United States will start training Ukrainians to fly and maintain F-16 fighter jets in the autumn, Pentagon press secretary Pat Ryder told a briefing on Thursday.
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The training includes a series of courses "ranging from basic flight training to instruction on fighter fundamentals, weapons employment, combat manoeuvring and tactical intercepts among other concepts", the US defence department said in a statement.
Prior to flight training, the Ukrainian pilots will receive language training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas beginning in September, to ensure they have sufficient language skills to be able to fully comprehend the "complexities and specialised English required to fly the aircraft."
The pilot training is expected to begin in October at the Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, and will be facilitated by the Air National Guard's 162nd Wing.
Last week, the Pentagon said that Ukrainian pilots would be trained in the United States if there are more than the number of pilots that can be trained by European allies.
On Sunday, Denmark announced that it would donate 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine, while the Netherlands would transfer some of the 42 fighter jets it is currently replacing with more modern F-35s.
Ukraine, which has long been pushing for modern fighter jets, has indicated it needs four squadrons, that is 48 F-16s, to effectively deter Russian aggression.