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.
According to Reuters, Washington has given assurances to Denmark and the Netherlands that the F-16 transfer requests will be expedited when Ukraine’s pilots are trained, a U.S. official said on Thursday.
After months of requests from Kyiv, Washington finally gave its backing for providing advanced warplanes including F-16s to Ukraine and training Kyiv's pilots in May.
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.
“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,” Yuriy Ihnat, the press secretary of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) Air Force Command, said earlier this week.
The F-16 fighters were anticipated to play a pivotal role in fortifying Ukraine’s summer offensive 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.
Timeframes for pilots to train to fly the F-16 as a single aircraft or as a wingman supporting an experienced flight lead normally take a minimum of six months, without any special weapons training, such as AGM-88 HARM anti-air defense weaponry or complex surface attack weapons.
This timeline would not include specialized aviation-related English language courses prescribed by the Pentagon, which assuming fluency requires an additional training period of one to four months, according to Kyiv Post’s resident military aviation specialist.
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