A U.S. military official has stated that two Ukrainian pilots are currently at a military base in in Tucson, Arizona being trained and tested on flight simulators to assess how long it would take for them to learn to fly various military aircraft, including F-16s.
Another official, traveling with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to the Middle East, told reporters on Sunday that the Ukrainian pilots were there for “a familiarization event” that he described as a “routine activity as part of our military-to-military dialogue with Ukraine.”
NBC News quoted another unnamed official as saying: “The Ukrainians will not be flying any aircraft. The programme is about assessing their abilities as pilots so we can better advise them on how to use the capabilities they have and we have given them”.
Last week, Colin Kahl, a Pentagon official, told the U.S. House of Representatives’ Armed Services Committee that no decision had been made on whether or not to supply F-16s to Ukraine.
The Biden Administration has come under pressure from Republican Members of Congress, to supply Ukraine with F-16s.
Speaking at last month’s Munich Security Conference Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican Senator, said there was a “virtually unanimous belief” in Congress that the U.S. should provide training on the aircraft.
“Don’t worry about provoking Putin, worry about beating him,” he said in an interview with the ABC network.
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