Ukrainian pilots have already started training on F-16s, Borrell says
Borrell expressed hope for a quick transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine (Photo:Christine Olsson/TT News Agency via Reuters)
Ukrainian pilots have already started training on U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said on May 22.
“I think that the training of the pilots has already started, this is the first thing to do, and I hope that soon we could provide Ukraine with these kinds of arms,” he said upon arrival at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
Borrell also welcomed the G7 leaders’ decision on F-16s for Ukraine.
“That is a good initiative,” the official said.
“That is a good thing coming out of the G7, that finally they decided to prepare the ground in order to provide Ukraine with the fighter jets they need.”
Amid the G7 summit in Japan, Western partners began talks about the formation of a coalition to transfer F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, which Kyiv has been requesting for a long time.
The training of Ukrainian pilots will be the first step.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said on May 19 that his country would work together with the United States, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark in order to provide the proper training for Ukrainian pilots on modern aircraft.
On May 21, Sunak said that the United Kingdom would begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets “this summer.”
According to U.S. television channel CNN, U.S. President Joe Biden informed G7 leaders on May 19 that the United States would support a joint effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation warplanes, including F-16s.
However, it has not yet been announced the timing and number of fighter jets Ukraine may receive.
Meanwhile, the White House has confirmed U.S. participation in the fighter jets for Ukraine coalition. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan that in the coming months his country would work with the allies “to determine when planes will be delivered, who will be delivering them, and how many.”
At the same time, Ukraine will receive F-16 fighter jets on condition that they not be used to attack Russian territory, Sullivan added.
Earlier Yuriy Sak, an advisor to the Ukrainian defense minister, said that Kyiv expects to receive F-16 fighter jets this fall.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on May 21 that the aviation coalition for providing fighter jets to Ukraine has been created, but he can’t reveal any details about the number of planes or when they will arrive in Ukraine.
“I can’t tell you right now how many planes we will get and when it will exactly happen. But we will accelerate it,” Zelenskyy said.
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