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US to spearhead Ukrainian pilot training on F-16 fighter jets

The US will lead a collaborative effort with the Netherlands and Denmark to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, the US Defense Secretary says.
Norwegian F-16. Photo: Norwegian Air Force
US to spearhead Ukrainian pilot training on F-16 fighter jets

The US will head up a coalition of countries training Ukrainian pilots and crews to operate and maintain F-16 fighter jets alongside the Netherlands and Denmark, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on 11 October in Brussels, Politico reports.

During the initial day of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting in Brussels, Austin mentioned that allies within the Ukraine Defense Contact Group of the security bloc are establishing “capability coalitions” dedicated to targeted support areas for Kyiv.

NATO’s endeavors extend beyond this F-16 training initiative. As Austin elaborated, Estonia and Luxembourg will take charge in bolstering Ukraine’s IT defense infrastructure, and Lithuania will provide demining assistance to Kyiv. Furthermore, the US will engage in armor and artillery programs, and a new naval group will be formed, underlining the alliance’s multifaceted support.

“That shows how much we can do when we come together,” said Austin. “It also show that American leadership matters.”

For now, 11 nations are on board to train Ukrainian aircrews and maintenance staff. 

The US gave the green light for the Netherlands and Denmark to transfer their F-16s to Ukraine after the training of Ukrainian pilots was concluded. Currently, training timelines remain unclear, while the anticipated delivery of the first set of F-16s from the Dutch and Danish is set for 2024. 

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