Ukraine, which has launched a counter-offensive, has consistently emphasized the necessity of acquiring new Western aircraft to effectively counter Russia’s dominance in the air.
According to Ukrainian air force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat, Ukraine is planning to send “several dozen” combat pilots for training on U.S.-manufactured F-16 fighter jets. This comes as Western allies prepare the necessary training programs.
Ihnat expressed that everything possible is being done to initiate the training as early as possible, highlighting that the selected pilots for training will have combat experience.
He emphasized that this is not just training, but rather a process of retraining.
Ukraine, in its long-awaited counter-offensive, has repeatedly stressed the need for new Western aircraft to successfully challenge Russia’s aerial supremacy.
Leading the efforts in an international coalition, NATO members the Netherlands and Denmark are actively involved in training pilots and support staff, maintaining aircraft, and eventually supplying F-16s to Ukraine.
Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren revealed that the training of Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s could commence in the upcoming summer. The aim is to have the training program fully operational within six months. Denmark, with its flight simulators, is being considered as a potential host location for the program.
Ollongren mentioned that a final decision on Ukraine’s request for dozens of F-16s has not been made yet. She also stated that the U.S.-backed training program will involve Belgium and Luxembourg, while France and Britain have offered their assistance.