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US “deliberately” delaying training for Ukraine’s F-16 pilots, Kyiv claims

A Ukrainian official has claimed that a political decision by Washington is damaging operations against Russia due to the slow pace of F-16 pilot training.
f-16bm combat trainer aircraft from 322nd squadron royal netherlands credit militarnyi f-16 jets
F-16BM combat trainer aircraft from the 322nd Squadron of the Royal Netherlands Credit: Militarnyi.
US “deliberately” delaying training for Ukraine’s F-16 pilots, Kyiv claims

The United States is “deliberately delaying” training for Ukrainian pilots on the F-16, Ukraine claims, which is why it will not have enough pilots trained by the end of the year, The Times reported on 18 June.

Oleksandra Ustinova, head of Ukraine’s special parliamentary commission on arms and munitions, has accused the United States of making “excuses” for failing to train sufficient numbers of Ukrainian F-16 fighter jet pilots.

Ustinova claims this delay means Ukraine will likely have only 20 fully trained F-16 pilots by the end of the year despite the expected arrival of the first jets later this year.

According to Ustinova, “So far, we’re [Ukraine – ed.] going to have fewer trained pilots than fighter jets.”

The Times reported that “only eight Ukrainian pilots” are currently being trained in Tucson, Arizona.

The Times reported, citing Ustiova, that “a political decision by Washington is damaging operations against Russia.”

The third training program in Romania has not yet begun. According to Ustinova, Kyiv asked Washington to provide at least ten more places in the training programs, but its request was rejected.

Washington told Kyiv that other countries were ahead of Ukrainian pilots in the queue for training places and that it could not violate its obligations to them.

A US Defense Department spokesman also claimed that Ukrainian pilots are having difficulty with their English language skills and the flight program, saying that “the progress of training on F-16s is quite meager.”

Ustinova called such claims “ridiculous,” adding that “these are not arguments; they are excuses, and they keep coming up with them again and again.”

Several NATO allies, including Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway, have pledged to transfer more than 60 F-16s to Ukraine earlier.

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