Ukraine will not employ F-16 fighter jets in its counteroffensive against Russian forces this summer but will use all ground-based equipment, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told NHK on 4 July in Singapore.
Some Western countries are training or have offered to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the aircraft, but it will take time to prepare the pilots, engineers, and technicians who can maintain and repair the sophisticated jets, according to him.
Rezniikov says Ukraine will be ready to deploy F-16s in the fall or winter.
First groups of Ukrainian pilots have already been sent to Britain for training on the F-16, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said at the meeting with UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Kyiv on 5 June.
Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat clarified that pilots haven’t yet gone abroad for training on the F-16:
“We are not talking about pilot training at the moment. The first groups of aviation specialists have departed and are studying the possibility of the further launch of training for Ukrainian pilots,” Ihnat said.