Ukrainian Air Force walks back comments about Ukrainian pilots training on F16 jets in Europe — Ihnat
Yuriy Ignat said that the training of Ukrainian pilots has not yet started (Photo:armyinform.com.ua)
The Ukrainian Air Force has not yet confirmed that the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets in European countries has begun, said Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson, Yuriy Ihnat, during an interview on Ukrainian national television on May 23.
“The process of preparing individuals to initiate this training is still underway,” Naysaid.
“Advanced teams have been sent to European countries that can provide training facilities. The process and other related aspects are being studied. There are no pilots currently flying these aircraft.”
Representatives from the Air Force and other relevant organizations are in constant contact with allied nations. The timing and specific groups participating in the training, as well as the duration of the process, are currently under examination, he clarified.
“We will not delve into the details of whether training is taking place or the extent of its progress. We cannot send a large number of pilots; someone needs to be in combat,” Ihnat concluded.
Western partners discussed the formation of a coalition to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets at the G7 summit in Japan, acceding to a request that Kyiv has long made.
The initial step in this process will involve the training of Ukrainian pilots.
The UK, USA, Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark have agreed to participate in the training of Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on May 19, saying that the UK can begin training this summer.
Portugal has also said it can train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s.
Previously, U.S. news channel CNN reported that U.S. President Joe Biden supported the decision for joint training.
Earlier today, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said Ukrainian pilots have already begun training on F-16 fighter jets., adding that several European countries, including Poland, have joined the training initiative. Media outlets have reported that this information has been confirmed by the Polish government.
U.S. news website Politico reported that Kyiv may receive the aircraft as early as autumn.
The exact timeline and quantity of fighter jets Ukraine will receive have not yet been announced.
The White House stated that in the coming months, allies will work together to determine when, who, and how many aircraft will be transferred to Ukraine. However, the provision of fighter jets is contingent upon Ukraine not utilizing them for strikes on Russian territory.
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