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Ukraine conflict: European F-16 pilot training centre opened in Romania

The European F-16 Training Center for the training of Ukrainian pilots was officially opened in Romania on 13 November. (Kajsa Ollongren/Netherlands Ministry of Defence)

The European F-16 Training Center that will instruct Ukrainian pilots was officially opened in Romania on 13 November.

The ministers of defence for Romania and the Netherlands, Angel Tîlvăr and Kajsa Ollongren unveiled the centre along with Orlando Sanchez, Lockheed Martin's vice-president,at the 86th Fetesti Air Base in eastern Romania. Officials from Denmark and the United States also attended – as members of the international ‘F-16 coalition' announced at the 2023 NATO Vilnius Summit in Lithuania – as did those from Ukraine.

The official launch of the new centre followed the recent arrival of the first former Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) F-16s at the base, which is also home to the Romanian Air Force's F-16 force, on 7 November. Though donated to the centre, the jets will continue to be owned by the RNLAF.

On 25 October the US Air Force (USAF) announced it had commenced US-based training on the F-16 for Ukrainian pilots and maintainers, which came weeks after Denmark said in September that it had begun Ukrainian F-16 training at Flyvestation Skrydstrup (Skrydstrup Air Base). The RNLAF is also understood to have launched training at its facilities.

As well as Denmark and the US, the ‘F-16 coalition' includes fellow NATO members Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom, as well as soon-to-be member state, Sweden. These countries have committed themselves to equipping and/or training Ukraine on the F-16.

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