War may enter new phase as US outlines plans to train Ukrainians to operate F-16 jets
The training plan means that within the next 12 months the Russian air force is likely to be facing off against fourth-generation F-16 fighter aircraft, perhaps even as early as a 2024 spring or summer offensive, a situation which would remove one of Russia’s greatest advantages.
A key aspect of Russia’s ability to withstand the current Ukrainian offensive is its dominance of the skies and facing off against F-16s with advanced weapons, particularly long-range and stand-off, and incentivised pilots in the cockpit will substantially diminish that.
The announcement that the US DoD would soon begin training Ukrainian pilots was made by Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig Gen Pat Ryder on 24 August and follows commitments to supply fighters from NATO countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands.
‘The training provided by the US will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that's already under way in Europe and further deepens our support for the F-16 training coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands,’ Ryder said.
‘Moving forward we will remain in close consultation with the Danes, the Dutch and other allies to ensure US training complements the broader coalition training efforts.’
The training is expected to begin in October at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, and will be facilitated by the Air National Guard's 162nd Wing.
The pilots will also be trained in the English language to deal with the complexities and specifics of the aircraft but training on the actual aircraft will vary from between five months and eight months, depending on the trainee’s ability.
The training will include a series of courses ranging from basic flight training to instruction on fighter fundamentals, weapons employment, combat manoeuvring and tactical intercepts among other concepts.
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