14:41 30 Oct 2023

First F-16 fighter jets will likely be delivered to Ukraine next spring – air force

Colonel Yurii Ihnat. Photo: Ukraine's Air Force

The first F-16 combat jets are likely to appear in Ukraine next spring. 

Colonel Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for Ukraine's Air Force Command, said during the national telethon about 150 jets would be enough to effectively protect the airspace of the country, Rubryka reports.

"The timelines are announced by every official in Europe or the USA, be it an opinion leader or a government official. Everyone says different dates," Ihnat said. "For now, we are relying on the spring because pilot training with aviation instructors has already started. I think we can rely on the statements made by the Ukrainian authorities." 

Ihnat did not hide that Ukraine wants to get fighter jets "as soon as possible, and it will not be possible to get anything faster than the F-16."

"That's why we look forward to training pilots. The training process is really not easy, the infrastructure preparation is not easy, the engineer training is also not easy," the spokesman said.

Yurii Ihnat also noted that 150 modern fighter jets could effectively protect the airspace of Ukraine. 

"This is in the future. We will replace the entire fleet of Soviet — both morally and physically — obsolete equipment with F-16, possibly another type of aircraft, for example, Gripen," he added.

What we know about F-16 jets for Ukraine

The US approved the transfer of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands to Ukraine. National Security Adviser to the President of the United States, Jake Sullivan, said that Ukraine will receive the planes after pilot training is completed.

The Netherlands and Denmark agreed to transfer F-16 jets to Ukraine after Ukrainian pilots finish training. In particular, Ukraine will receive 42 American F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and 19 fighters from Denmark. Training of Ukrainian pilots will begin as soon as possible.

The United States joined the program of training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets. Portugal has also expressed readiness to participate in training Ukrainian pilots and engineers on F-16 combat jets.

Greece also agreed to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters. Romania and the Netherlands agreed to create a base for training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16.

Many European countries have agreed to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets as part of the jet coalition. By July, the partners planned to approve the training program for Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and technicians on F-16 fighter jets. The training is expected to take place in a specially designated center in one of the European countries.

Earlier, Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat reported that Ukraine needs about 128 jets to gain superiority in the sky and replace the old aircraft fleet. Ukraine's defense ministry said that Ukraine could receive the first F-16 jets no earlier than in 6-7 months.

In September, the Pentagon is set to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets in the United States. First, they learn English and then begin flight training on aircraft.

In mid-September, the Air Force spokesperson, Yurii Ihnat, said that training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets had moved from a standstill and "gained momentum."

In late September, the Air Force released a video about how pilots adapt to the F-16 in Ukraine. They master the control of American F-16 fighter jets with the help of a flight simulator.

The first group of Ukrainian pilots will soon transition from F-16 flight simulators to flight training on combat jets under the guidance of instructors.

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