US evaluates Ukrainian pilots, considers training them: report

U.S. Air Force photo

US military is currently assessing two Ukrainian pilots and trying to determine how long would it take for them to fly combat aircraft, a report suggests. 

The evaluation of the pilots’ skills is being conducted at a base in Tucson, Arizona, a report by NBC claims, referring to an unnamed senior US official.  

Simulators are being used, while the military seeks to determine how soon the pilots would learn to fly “attack aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets,” the report adds. 

The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet has been considered as a likely candidate for becoming the main combat aircraft of the Ukrainian Air Force even before the start of Russian full-scale invasion in February 2022. 

Several countries – included Poland, the Netherlands and Denmark – have been considered as possible donors of their used F-16s. 

The United Kingdom and France have previously announced an intention to train Ukrainian pilots to fly Western-made fighter jets, although neither country operates F-16s. 

There have been unconfirmed reports that Ukrainian pilots have already been visiting the US, for training or other reasons. US government approved such training in July 2023, and allocated funding for it.  

In October 2023 in an interview to AeroTime Kurt Volker, a former US Ambassador to NATO and former US Special Representative for Ukraine, said that the US already began training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16. 

In January 2023 Yurii Ihnat, the spokesman for the Air Forces Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Ukrainian military pilots have already “visited the United States,” in the first official confirmation of such a visit.  

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