Ukrainian pilots to complete F-16 fighter jet training in the U.S. by summer 2024

F-16 fighter jet
F-16 fighter jet

The first four Ukrainian pilots will complete their F-16 fighter jet training program by summer 2024, CNN reported on Feb. 20, citing the Arizona National Guard.

The training kicked off in mid-October 2023 at the 162nd Fighter Wing in Tucson, Arizona. The Pentagon said that the extensive training regimen would last several months.

Read also: Kyiv on track to get U.S.-made F-16 jets in June – European officials

A second quartet of pilots began their training in January 2024, Arizona National Guard spokesperson Erin Hannigan said. Another group of four is sharpening their English skills before they become the third quartet to be trained.

All pilots are expected to complete their training from May to August, although the exact timelines will depend on the program's progress, said Hannigan.

The first F-16 jets are expected to arrive in Ukraine around June 2024, Foreign Policy reported on Feb. 18, referncing European officials. Yuriy Ihnat, a spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force, cautioned against locking in specific dates for the aircraft's handover from international allies.

Read also: Ukraine Air Force preparing infrastructure for F-16 transfer with no concrete timeline at this stage

Previously, the transfer of fighter jets to Ukraine was anticipated in the first half of 2024.

The Netherlands and Denmark pledged in Aug. 2023 to jointly transfer 61 American F-16 fighters to Ukraine, following authorization from the United States.

Norway has also confirmed its intention to supply F-16s, and Belgium has committed to transferring F-16s to Ukraine starting in 2025.

In a move to expedite the process, the Netherlands started the handover of the first 18 of 42 F-16 fighters to Ukraine in December 2023, later bumping that figure to 24.

As these preparations unfold, Ukrainian pilots are currently being trained on F-16s in various allied nations.

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