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Ukraine conflict: US begins Ukrainian F-16 training

A graphic put out by UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in May to mark the announcement by US President Joe Biden that F-16s would be sent to Ukraine. (Crown Copyright)

Ukrainian personnel have begun US-based training on the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft, the US Air Force (USAF) confirmed on 25 October.

A “small number” of Ukrainian Air Force pilots and maintainers arrived at the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard at Morris Air National Guard Base to begin learning the fundamentals of the F-16, a service spokesperson said.

News of the commencement of US-based instruction came weeks after Denmark said in September that it had begun Ukrainian F-16 training at Flyvestation Skrydstrup (Skrydstrup Air Base). The Netherlands is also understood to have launched training at its facilities.

According to the USAF, the US-based Ukrainian students have begun a technical English language course at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. This is followed by ground-based classroom and simulator time, before the pilots progress to fly the aircraft. Under an accelerated course, Ukrainian pilots should be qualified to operate the F-16 in as few as five months, compared to the usual eight.

Both Denmark and the US are part of an international ‘F-16 coalition' announced at the 2023 NATO Vilnius Summit in Lithuania. Along with 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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