In a recent announcement, Yuriy Ihnat, the press secretary of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Air Force Command, stated that Ukraine would not be able to receive American F-16 fighters from its allies during the upcoming autumn or winter seasons.
“We had high expectations that F-16 aircraft could enhance Ukraine’s air defense capabilities against Russian threats this fall and winter. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case,” Ihnat said during the national telethon on Wednesday, August 16.
The F-16 fighters were anticipated to play a pivotal role in fortifying Ukraine’s counteroffensive and air defense capability against Russian aircraft dominating the airspace over the frontlines.
An additional capability F-16s were hoped to provide was air defense against Russian cruise missile and drone attacks against Ukrainian cities and infrastructure.
“Although our pilots will soon undergo training, it’s clear that we need to reinforce our air defense systems,” Ihnat stressed.
Since the start of 2023, Ukrainian authorities have been actively urging Western nations, particularly the United States, to expedite the supply of modern fighter jets, including the highly sought-after American F-16s.
In July, John Kirby, the coordinator for strategic communications at the US National Security Council, indicated that the aircraft might be delivered to Ukraine by year’s end.
Reports emerged in July that an alliance of 11 countries, led by Denmark and the Netherlands, were prepared to initiate training programs for Ukrainian pilots to operate the F-16.
However, their efforts were hindered due to the lack of official authorization from the United States.
A significant development came on August 8 when it was announced at a Pentagon briefing that President Joe Biden had granted permission for representatives from other nations to train Ukrainian pilots.
Official representatives of Ukraine and other countries have repeatedly stated that the pilot training should begin in August. Possible deliveries of fighters directly depend on the timing of its completion, along with maintenance support training and logistics infrastructure required to bed-down the aircraft.
However, the training hasn’t started yet and will likely take longer than anticipated.
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