President Joe Biden has told G7 leaders that the United States will support a coordinated effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots in the use of combat aircraft, including the F-16. The White House confirms this after previous reports to this effect appeared in the American media.
The training is expected to take place entirely in Europe. However, American personnel will participate in the training with allies in Europe. It is expected that this will take several months.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will attend the G7 summit in Japan, called the decision “historic” on Twitter. Zelensky has repeatedly urged his Western allies to provide fighter jets. American permission is required for delivery, because the F-16s are produced in the United States.
However, the participation of the United States in the possible training does not mean that the United States has already decided to supply combat aircraft to Ukraine. “Since the training will take place over the next few months, the coalition of countries involved in this effort will decide if we will actually provide aircraft, how much and by whom,” a government official told CNN.
In March, the US hosted Ukrainian pilots at a military base in Tucson, Arizona, to assess their skills using flight simulators and assess how long it would take them to learn how to fly various US military aircraft, including the F-16. The US Congress has allocated funds for such training in the 2023 budget.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that he had reached an agreement with Prime Minister Mark Rutte to take the lead in an international coalition of fighter jets for Ukraine. “From training to obtaining F-16s,” Sunak’s spokesman said. Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra denied this a day later and said the Netherlands had not yet gone that far. Denmark also announced immediately after Biden’s statement of support that it wanted to start training Ukrainian pilots. (AP)
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