Illustration photo – American fighter F-16.
Washington – The United States is working with Ukrainian pilots in the US to determine how long it would take them to learn to fly F-16 fighter jets. Citing three informed sources, CNN news website wrote about it today. Although, according to him, there is no indication at the moment that flight training is taking place, such a move suggests that the US has not completely ruled out the possibility of supplying Ukraine with F-16s.
Two Ukrainian pilots are currently at a military base in the US, where their skills are being evaluated using flight simulators. The goal is to find out how much time they would need to learn to fly various US military aircraft, including the F-16.
A US military official told reporters traveling with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to the Middle East, that Ukrainian pilots are in Tucson, Arizona, for an event that he described as a routine part of military-to-military dialogue with Ukraine.
“This familiarization event is essentially a discussion among Air Force personnel and an observation of how the US Air Force operates,” the source said. He added that this will help streamline the work of Ukrainian pilots, who will receive advice that will allow them to develop their skills. Pilots will use simulators during the event, not real planes, according to the official. The source added that “there is no current information to provide regarding F-16s for Ukraine” and that there are no immediate plans to increase the number of Ukrainian pilots in the US.
Ukraine is seeking the delivery of Western fighter jets, and top Ukrainian officials have stepped up their public lobbying campaign in recent days, arguing that they need the machines to defend against Russian missile and drone attacks.
But the United States and its allies have responded to this pressure. with some skepticism and arguments that delivering the aircraft would not be practical as it would require lengthy training and Russia has extensive anti-aircraft systems that could shoot down these aircraft.
In the past, US President Joe Biden, when asked whether the US would supply Ukraine with F-16 aircraft, answered with an unequivocal “no”. At the beginning of the war, the US also believed that the delivery of new fighter jets to Ukraine would lead to an escalation between Russia and NATO.
In February, Biden said in an interview with ABC News that Ukraine “doesn't need F-16s now”. despite repeated public pleas from Ukrainian officials and growing pressure from Republicans in Congress, CNN writes.
American and European officials have previously told CNN that the delivery of F-16s would not be practical under the current circumstances. Germany ruled out supplying fighter jets to Ukraine last week, with British government officials taking a similar stance, saying it would not be practical. According to CNN, the Dutch and Polish leaders also appeared reluctant when asked about the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine. by F-16 fighters would take a year and a half and be extremely expensive.