US Air Force will train Ukrainian F-16 pilots from September 2023

U.S. Air National Guard photo

The United States will begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 from September 2023, to help the coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands to fulfill all of Ukraine’s training needs.  

The announcement was made during a press briefing on August 24, 2023, by Brigadier General Pat Ryder, the spokesperson for the Pentagon. 

“The training provided by the United States will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that’s already underway in Europe and further deepens our support for the F-16 Training Coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands,” Ryder said. 

Starting from September 2023, the pilots will first receive English proficiency training at the Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC) in Lackland, Texas. 

“Although some Ukrainian pilots have English language skills, we are anticipating that all of the pilots coming to the United States will require some level of additional English language instruction, given the complexities and the specialized English that’s required to fly these aircraft,” the Pentagon spokesperson explained. 

Subsequently, the Ukrainian trainees will proceed to the Morris Air Base in Arizona, home to the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard, which specializes in training foreign aviators to operate the F-16 fighter. 

Ryder explained that a basic new F-16 pilot, who has not received extensive training on the US side, typically undergoes training lasting approximately eight months, while for an experienced pilot, the training might take around five months or so.  

“A lot is going to depend on those individual pilots and the assessment in terms of where they’re at in that process,” the spokesperson concluded. 

Shortly after the Pentagon briefing, US President Joe Biden made a call to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine on the occasion of Ukraine’s Independence Day, in which they discussed the training of Ukrainian fighter pilots and “assurance of expedited approval for other nations to transfer their F-16s to Ukraine.” 

The same day, during a visit to Kyiv, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced that Norway would join the Netherlands and Denmark in donating F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.   

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