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Ten Ukrainian pilots complete basic F-16 training in the UK

Ten Ukrainian pilots completed RAF flight training to prepare for advanced instruction on operating F-16 fighter jets for Ukraine’s air force.
Norwegian F-16. Photo: Norwegian Air Force
Ten Ukrainian pilots complete basic F-16 training in the UK

The first ten Ukrainian pilots have graduated from intensive RAF flight training in the UK, having received basic flying, ground school, and language instruction, and will now undergo advanced French Air Force training before learning to fly F-16 fighter jets to defend Ukraine’s skies against Russian forces, according to Britain’s Defense Ministry.

According to the statement, this training is a key UK contribution to the international Air Capability Coalition, co-led by the United States, Denmark, and the Netherlands, aimed at building a modern Ukrainian air force centered around F-16s.

British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps hailed the achievement, stating the RAF-trained pilots are now closer to joining Ukraine’s fight to protect its skies from Russian forces. He emphasized the UK’s leadership role, being the first nation to supply long-range missiles to Ukraine and consistently urging allies to back the F-16 training program.

“While the UK does not operate the F-16 fighter jets which Ukraine has chosen to form the core of its modernised air force, the Prime Minister and Defence Secretary have consistently urged partners and allies to back an international programme to provide training and jets to the Ukrainians, which is scheduled to deliver the first F-16s to Ukraine by summer 2024,” the statement reads.

In addition to aircraft handling and navigation, the Ukrainian trainees received English lessons to assist in future coordination with NATO air forces. Having aligned curriculums with the French military, they will continue advanced instruction there prior to transitioning to the F-16 aircraft itself. This pilot cohort joins over 60,000 Ukrainians trained by Britain since Russia’s 2014 incursion into Crimea, according to the UK Defense Ministry.

“The UK remains fully committed to supporting Ukraine, with £2.5bn ($3.3 billion, – Ed.) already earmarked for further military support through 2024, including a recently announced £325m ($428 million, – Ed.) of bilateral support to provide more than 10,000 advanced drones, and £245m ($323 million, – Ed.) to continue to provide much-needed artillery ammunition,” the press release reads.

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