Six more Ukrainian pilots now training on F-16s in Denmark, more on their way
At least 14 Ukrainian Air Force pilots now have some training on the Western jet.
Six Ukrainian pilots are learning to fly F-16s in Denmark, the third cohort to be trained on the fighter jet since July, when the U.S. decided to allow European allies to export the plane to Ukraine.
The pilots first traveled to the United Kingdom to hone their English skills, according to a U.K. Defense Ministry press release.
They also received basic flight training in the Grob Tutor aircraft, a propeller-driven trainer. Cockpit time in the Grob is intended to “bring future Ukrainian pilots closer to a NATO standard approach to flying,” said the press release.
A further ten Ukrainian pilots have completed language training in the United Kingdom and are now receiving basic flight training. Additionally, dozens of Ukrainian aircraft technicians are undergoing English training focusing on engineering, the press release added.
“This is a significant step forward from Ukraine’s current Soviet-era capabilities,” said UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps.
A further eight pilots and 65 maintenance personnel have been training in Denmark since late August. The United States started training an unstated number of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s in late October, the Air Force said.
Ukraine and Romania also agreed in October that the first wave of pilots trained at a new F-16 training base in Romania will include Ukrainian pilots, according to a Romanian government press release. The training base opened in early November, and may start training Ukrainian pilots early next year.
An Air Force assessment in May said that Ukrainian pilots could learn to fly F-16s in as little as four months, but that additional language training would be needed for the “majority of the initial cadre.” In November, a Ukrainian pilot told CNN that he was in the second month of a two-month training program.
Ukraine pressed almost from the beginning of the war for F-16s to protect Ukrainian cities from aerial attack. The U.S., which controls the export of the fighter jets, ultimately gave the green light for allies to transfer F-16s to Ukraine in July.
European allies said they would need several weeks to prepare for training, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in July.
On Dec. 22, the Netherlands announced it was preparing 18 F-16s for transport to Ukraine. European nations have promised around 60 F-16s to Ukraine, but not all will be ready soon — some nations have promised deliveries only in 2025.
F-16s will not be a game changer on the battlefield, but will help suppress Russian air defenses and reduce Russia’s ability to launch destructive glide bombs, RAND think tank expert Michael Bohnert wrote in early October.