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CNN: First group of Ukrainian pilots to complete US F-16 training by summer

The first Ukrainian pilots undertaking US F-16 training are expected to graduate by May 2023, with a dozen other airmen progressing in groups through August as part of a coordinated fighter jet supply effort.
A F-16 fighter jet. Illustrative image. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
A F-16 fighter jet. Illustrative image. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
CNN: First group of Ukrainian pilots to complete US F-16 training by summer

The Arizona National Guard reports that the first four Ukrainian pilots are set to finish their F-16 fighter jet training by summer, having started in mid-October with Tucson’s 162nd Fighter Wing, CNN reports. The Pentagon estimated the training would take several months.

Ukraine aims to use F-16 fighter jets to counter Russia’s air superiority at the frontline. The dense air defenses prevent Russian aircraft from operating behind lines in Ukraine-controlled territory, but they maintain an edge with longer-range radars and air-launched missiles and bombs. By deploying F-16s, which are superior to their current Soviet-era aircraft, Ukraine hopes to push Russian aircraft further from the front.

According to Capt. Erin Hannigan, a spokeswoman for the Arizona National Guard, a second group of four pilots began training in January, and a third group of four is currently undergoing English-language training, required for flying the fourth-generation US fighter jet, CNN says. Hannigan stated that all pilots are expected to complete their training between May and August, although the exact timeline will depend on the program’s progress.

Last summer, a Denmark-led coalition initiated training for Ukrainian pilots on US jets. The Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway pledged to supply F-16 jets to Ukraine post-training, with the US agreeing to approve the transfer upon completion of the program.

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