OAN’s Roy Francis
1:04 PM – Friday, August 25, 2023
The Department of Defense is set to begin training Ukrainian pilots on how to operate and maintain the F-16 fighter jets in October.
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder announced that the training will begin in October and well be conducted at the Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona. The Air National Guard’s 162nd wing will be in charge of the training.
Ryder stated that the training will be in “support of the international effort” to help strengthen Ukraine’s defenses for the long-term.
“The training provided by the United States will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that’s already underway in Europe and further deepens our support of the F-16 training coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands,” Ryder said. “Moving forward we will remain in close consultation with the Danes, the Dutch and other allies to ensure U.S. training complements the broader coalition training efforts.”
Ryder also said that the training will likely take several months before the pilots are ready to operate and maintain the aircrafts.
“Part of this training will be assessing the individual pilots’ skill level, which will determine help to determine how long that training will last,” he said. “Your basic, new F-16 pilot with not a lot of training on the U.S. side, that training typically lasts about eight months.”
He said that the training for the more advanced and experience pilots will take around five months.
In addition to the flight training, Ryder stated that the F-16s will require significant logistics and maintenance training in order for ground personnel to be able to keep the aircrafts combat ready.
In conjunction to the training that will be conducted by the U.S., Norway has joined other nations like the Netherlands and Denmark in announcing that they intend to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets from their own air force.
The announcement from Norway came after it was confirmed that the nation will be replacing its F-16s with the newer Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters.
Ukrainian air force brigadier general Serhii Golubtsov said that the delivery of the F-16s from the various nations will be enough to “transform” the Ukrainian air force. He has previously stated that they require “at least 12 to16 planes” in order to “plan an operation” and be effective.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III stated that the U.S. remains “steadfast” in the commitment to Ukraine as it celebrates its 32nd anniversary of independence, and that the support will continue for “as long as it takes.”
“The Ukrainian people have inspired the world with their courage and resolve to defend their right to live in a sovereign, democratic and free country,” he said. “Today, as Ukraine commemorates another year of independence, the United States remains steadfast in our commitment to ensure that it can celebrate many more. We will support Ukraine for as long as it takes in its fight for its security and freedom.”
Ultimately Ukraine will be in charge of deciding how many pilots will attend the flight training held in the U.S.
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