GlobalUkrainian pilots could fly F-16s in 3 months, says US Air National...

Ukrainian pilots could fly F-16s in 3 months, says US Air National Guard chief

The United States could have its first generation of Ukrainian pilots trained in flying F-16 fighters by the end of the year, although it will be longer before they carry out combat missions, the director of the US Air National Guard said. on Tuesday.

The Ukrainian pilots are scheduled to arrive at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, starting in October. The pilots are currently being tested on their English proficiency and, depending on their ability and prior experience operating fighter jets, could complete training in the United States in less than three months, said Lt. Gen. Michael Loh. , director of the Air National Guard, during the Air Force Association’s annual convention in National Harbor, Maryland.

“They will come as soon as they get the green light and immediately start their training,” Loh stated.

To meet the short deadline, Tucson may make changes to its other international pilot training commitments to prioritize Ukraine, he said.

“It is a national priority,” he stressed.

However, after completing training in the United States, the Ukrainians would have to return to Europe for additional NATO training. NATO allies are also training Ukrainians in aircraft maintenance, which will also have to be completed before the planes take part in combat missions. Loh does not have an estimate of the additional time such training will require.

Gen. David Allvin, nominated to become the next head of the Air Force, told the Senate during his confirmation hearing Tuesday that, on average, F-16 training will take between six and nine months.

The Ukrainian government has requested fighter jets from the West since the first days of the war. During the first year and a half of the conflict, the United States and other partners focused on providing other weapons systems due to the cost of aircraft, concerns about further provoking Russia, the number of anti-aircraft systems Russia had covering the airspace Ukrainian and the difficulty of maintaining aircraft.

Since then, the war has become a bloody, slow-moving struggle with ground tactics and trench warfare similar to World War I, and for this, the F-16’s ability to nullify enemy air defenses and Carrying out low-altitude strikes could be useful for Ukraine, Loh said. Furthermore, unlike other systems that have been promised to Ukraine, the F-16s are still being manufactured and, because they are in common use among several of the international partners, there are still sufficient spare parts.

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