UK May Host First Phase of Ukrainian Fighter Pilots’ Training on F-16s – Reports

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ukraine, kiev, united kingdom, josep borrell, artis pabriks, norwegian, european union (eu), white house, f-16, uk

ukraine, kiev, united kingdom, josep borrell, artis pabriks, norwegian, european union (eu), white house, f-16, uk

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The first phase of training of Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets will be held in the United Kingdom, US media reported on Wednesday, citing a UK government spokesperson.

“This will be ground-based basic training of Ukrainian pilots who will then be ready for more specific F-16 [or other] training,” the spokesperson told US media, adding that some 20 Ukrainian pilots would be entering the initial training.

Ukrainian and Eastern European officials have already begun considering wargame scenarios for the use of Western fighter jets for various purposes, including escorting grain-carrying ships through the Black Sea, Artis Pabriks, former Latvian Defense Minister and the head of the Northern Europe Policy Centre think tank in Riga, told the media.

“It’s better late than never … With F-16s, it will give additional assistance to ground forces. It will give it better cover for operations with tanks, either Leopards or Abrams. And it will neutralize or weaken Russian air capability. So, even if they are shooting missiles from Russian territory, it’s important that they know that they could be hurt,” Pabriks also said.

In early May, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba said deliveries of F-16s to Kiev would help Ukraine “keep Russian warships and aircraft away from the Black Sea Grain Corridor.”

Norwegian Defense Minister Bjorn Arild Gram said on Wednesday that Oslo supports the training of Ukrainian military pilots on F-16s.

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons flying in formation. - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.05.2023

Why Does Ukraine Want F-16s?

“Norway will consider various ways to contribute to the training of Ukrainian personnel on the F-16 fighter jets,” Gram said in an interview with a Norwegian broadcaster, adding the government supports the initiative and is considering their contribution.

Norway’s F-16s finished their mission of maintaining the country’s defense in 2022 and were replaced by F-35s, the broadcaster reported.

During the G7 summit in Japan’s Hiroshima last week, US President Joe Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the US, along with its partners, was going to launch a training program for Ukraine’s military pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including F-16s.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Saturday that the time was not yet right for Kiev to have F-16s, adding that the US and its allies were going to decide which countries would supply these aircraft to Kiev and in what number.

On Tuesday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said a number of countries, including Poland, had already begun training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Western countries have been supplying military aid to Ukraine since the start of hostilities in February 2022. The aid evolved from artillery munitions and training in 2022 to heavier weapons, including tanks, later that year and in 2023. For months, Ukraine has pushed donors to supply fighter jets. The Kremlin has consistently warned Ukraine’s Western donors against continued arms deliveries.





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