Home Featured West scrambles to hash out details of Ukraine F-16 training
West scrambles to hash out details of Ukraine F-16 training

West scrambles to hash out details of Ukraine F-16 training

by host

One training proposal that has been discussed involves bringing Ukrainian pilots to the United States to receive instruction from the 162nd Air Wing, an Air National Guard unit based in Tucson, Ariz., that already trains foreign partners on the F-16.

But that idea has had little traction, according to two of the U.S. officials and a European official. They, along with others interviewed, were granted anonymity to discuss plans that have not yet been finalized.

Another plan involves sending U.S. military pilots to Europe to train the Ukrainians somewhere outside of that country.

Nothing is off the table, and no final decisions have been made, said two of the U.S. officials.

“There’s collaboration ongoing,” one of the officials said. “We are working with our partners and allies to determine the most practical way to implement this plan.”

The coalition has taken certain steps to start the training. Aerospace contractor Draken International has begun recruiting retired military pilots to train the Ukrainians, according to one of the U.S. officials and a job posting that was since taken down. This effort will take place at a facility that’s being built in Romania and is envisioned to be a regional F-16 training center.

Another training center will also be set up in Denmark, European officials said.

European partners hope training can start this summer, most likely at a location in Europe, Pentagon spokesperson Sabrina Singh said Tuesday. In the meantime, the U.K. plans to begin basic flying and language training for Ukrainian pilots within a few weeks, she said.

“In terms of any aircraft delivery or any additional timelines, I just don’t have anything for you today,” Singh said.

Despite the various ambitious timelines, training cannot start on the F-16s until the U.S. State Department formally approves the transfer of associated training materials, such as instruction manuals and flight simulators. That signoff, which is required under export restrictions, still has not taken place.

Asked recently about the holdup, national security adviser Jake Sullivan seemed to place responsibility on the Europeans, saying that those countries needed a few more weeks to create the necessary training infrastructure.

A spokesperson for the Danish defense ministry declined to comment; a spokesperson for the Dutch defense ministry did not respond to a request for comment. A U.S. State Department spokesperson also declined to comment on a proposed transfer of materials.

Realistically, U.S. officials say the jets won’t arrive until the spring at the earliest.

“We’d probably get some pilots flying, training by the end of the year, but an actual F-16 with Ukrainian colors” is not likely before the spring, said a fourth U.S. official.

Source link

You may also like