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US sets date to train Ukrainian F-16 pilots as Norway pledges jets

US sets date to train Ukrainian F-16 pilots as Norway pledges jets

by host

The United States will begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 warplanes in October, as Norway joins other European countries pledging fighter jets to Kyiv.  

The U.S. Department of Defense said Thursday that the training is expected to start in the fall in Arizona.

“The training provided by the United States will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that’s already underway in Europe and further deepens our support for the F-16 Training Coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said.

Prior to starting their training on how to fly and maintain F-16 jets, Ukrainian forces will receive English language training in Texas, Ryder said. This is needed “given the complexities and the specialized English that’s required to fly these aircraft,” he added.  

Ryder said it is not yet known how many Ukrainian pilots will participate in the training but he said the U.S. is expecting it will include “several pilots and dozens of maintainers.”

“Moving forward, we will remain in close consultation with the Danes, the Dutch and other allies to ensure U.S. training complements the broader coalition training effort,” he said.

On Thursday, Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced his country will join the Netherlands and Denmark in providing F-16 jets to Ukraine.

Støre said more details on the “donation, numbers and time frame for delivery” will follow.

“The donation of these F-16 jets will significantly strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities,’ Norway’s Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram added.

The Netherlands and Denmark announced last week that they would provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets, following approval from the U.S. allowing Ukrainian pilots to get training. The move was hailed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who spent months pressing the West to provide his forces with modern jets to repel Moscow’s full-scale invasion.

Denmark started training eight Ukrainian pilots to fly the jets this month, while an additional 65 personnel will be trained in maintaining and servicing the jets.

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