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France pledges to train 26 Ukrainian pilots for F-16s for next two years

A group of 10 Ukrainian pilots, aged 21 to 23, are currently undergoing fighter jet training at an undisclosed French air base, according to reports from Le Monde.
An F-16 fighter jet at Romania's 86th military air base
An F-16 fighter jet at Romania’s 86th military air base in Fetesti, Romania, on 13 November 2023. Credit: AFP
France pledges to train 26 Ukrainian pilots for F-16s for next two years

The French Air and Space Force has committed to training 26 Ukrainian military pilots over the next two years, according to the French newspaper Le Monde.

Le Monde reported on 17 June that 10 Ukrainian pilots aged 21 to 23 are currently training in southwestern France. The name of the air base where the training takes place has not been disclosed for security reasons.

According to Le Monde, some pilots “have never flown the planes” before, while others have experience flying the Czech-made L-39 Albatros trainer jet.

The Ukrainian pilots are training on Alphajet fighters, not the F-16s they are supposed to fly in Ukraine. However, the media reports that the Alphajets have the advantage of being equipped with an instrument panel that simulates the F-16 panel.

The training in France reportedly is the “culmination” of a long process that began in May 2023 at a meeting in the Ramstein format.

The British government announced on 23 March that the first 10 Ukrainian pilots had completed basic flight, ground, and language training on F-16 fighters in the UK and were moving on to advanced flight training provided by the French Air Force.

Politico reported on 23 May that the first group of Ukrainian pilots had completed training on US F-16 fighters at a military base in Arizona.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on 6 June that the country would send Mirage 2000 jets to Ukraine. The Mirage 2000 is a French multi-role fighter developed by the company Dassault Aviation in the 1970s.

The Times reported on 17 June, citing Ukrainian officials, that the United States is “deliberately delaying” training for Ukrainian pilots on the F-16, which is why it will not have enough pilots trained by the end of the year.

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