The Pentagon announced Thursday that a limited number of Ukrainian pilots and support personnel will arrive in the United States next month for F-16 fighter aircraft training.
Air Force Brigadier General Patrick Ryder, the Pentagon’s press secretary, stated at a news briefing that the group will begin additional English-language training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas in September and then travel to Morris Air National Guard Base in Arizona in October for training on F-16s.
It is anticipated that the training in the United States will occur concurrently with a program headed by Denmark and the Netherlands in Europe. The Pentagon stated last week that it would facilitate training in the United States if capacity was reached in Europe, but officials have since determined that it is more expedient to offer training immediately.
“As the Danes and the Dutch prepare to train these pilots, we are aware that capacity will be reached at some point in the future. “Therefore, the impetus behind why we’re doing this now is a proactive acknowledgment of that and a willingness to assist with this effort,” Ryder explained.
Biden Administration Confirms Accelerated Delivery of F-16 Aircraft to Ukraine
The announcement follows last week’s assurances from the Biden administration that the United States would expedite the dispatch of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine once training is complete. The Ukrainians have requested the aircraft for months to aid in their struggle against the Russian invasion.
President Biden announced in May that he would approve F-16s for Ukraine’s long-term defense. The Pentagon asserts that the fighter aircraft are not intended for the nation’s counteroffensive.
Thursday, Ryder did not provide a timeline for how long training would take because it will rely on the abilities of each individual pilot, but he did say that, in general, training can take up to eight months for American pilots who are already fluent in English.
Source: CBS News