2 Ukrainian Pilots Practice Flying F-16 Fighter in the US

2 Ukrainian Pilots Practice Flying F-16 Fighter in the US
2 Ukrainian Pilots Practice Flying F-16 Fighter in the US

Washington - Two Ukrainian pilots are training to fly F-16 fighter jets in the United States (US) amid the ongoing Moscow-Kiev war. However, US President Joe Biden's administration insists there are no plans to send F-16 fighter jets to Kiev for now. The training of the two Kiev pilots in America was disclosed by three US sources with knowledge of the training program.

During the program at the Air National Guard base in Tuscon, Arizona, both pilots have been flying aircraft simulators so the US military can evaluate their flight capabilities and mission planning. According to the sources, the two pilots will not be flying a real US aircraft.

"The goal is to assess their overall skills and what training they need to better use their own capabilities that we have given them on their own planes," said one of the three sources, who is a US official, as quoted by Politico. , Monday (6/3/2023).

The US has provided bombs, missiles and guidance equipment to Soviet-era aircraft operated by Ukraine. "This program involves watching how Ukrainian pilots carry out their mission planning and execution in a flight simulator to determine how we can provide better advice to the Ukrainian Air Force," the US official said.

A US Defense Department official and others familiar with the program said the aim was to evaluate how long it would take Ukrainian pilots to learn to fly modern fighter aircraft, including the F-16. The program, the sources added, was supposed to start late last year but was postponed. The two Kiev pilots have been at the base for a week and will stay for at least another week.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Defense was not immediately available for comment. The report on the training of two Ukrainian pilots comes as top Biden administration officials repeatedly balk at the idea of imminently sending American fighter jets to Kiev. "The F-16 is a question for later," national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a recent interview on CNN's "State of the Union." "And that's why President Biden has said that, for now, he's not going to do that."

Colin Kahl, the Pentagon's top policy official, told the Parliamentary Armed Services Committee last week that the US had not started training Ukrainian pilots with the F-16. "Because we haven't made a decision to provide the F-16s as well as our allies and partners, it doesn't make sense to start training them on a system they may never get," Kahl said.

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