The United States is set to announce its plans to host training for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, according to US officials. While the exact start date of the training program is still unclear, it is expected to involve a small number of pilots. Prior to learning to operate the American jets, the pilots will need to undergo English-language training, as all manuals and instruments are in English. The language classes will also be held in the US.
Around 32 Ukrainian pilots have been identified as ready to start training on the fighter jets, but most still need to improve their English-language proficiency. Alongside the pilots, some personnel will also receive training on maintaining the aircraft. It is anticipated that the pilots and personnel could arrive in the US as early as next month. Once the language instruction is concluded, the Ukrainian pilots will proceed with training to fly the F-16s.
The duration of the training is not yet determined, as the Ukrainian pilots have prior experience flying Soviet-era MiG and Sukhoi fighters, necessitating the acquisition of new skills to operate modern western jets. The specific location of the training is yet to be confirmed, although the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, is being considered as one of the options. This base previously hosted two Ukrainian fighter pilots in March to evaluate their ability to learn to fly the F-16 quickly, and they demonstrated above-average aptitude in various areas.
The 162nd Wing, part of the Arizona Air National Guard and based at Davis-Monthan, has a mission to train international partners on the F-16. Over the years, it has trained pilots from 25 different countries on the operation of these fourth-generation jets.
It is worth noting that Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov stated that training for Ukrainian pilots and technical crews on the F-16s has already commenced. While the minimum duration for the training program is expected to be six months, the length will ultimately be determined by the instructors.
The Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson emphasized that the F-16s could be instrumental in shifting the balance of power and achieving air superiority in the occupied territories.
Sources: US officials
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