Ukraine is relying on foreign fighter jets in the counteroffensive. But apparently not a single pilot has left the country for training.
Kyiv – In the war against Russia, weapons from allied states are essential for Ukraine. In addition to tanks, rocket launchers or air defense systems, there will soon be fighter jets. In the airspace, the Russian armed forces are clearly superior. In addition, protection by fighter jets would be important for a counteroffensive in order to minimize losses on the ground.
So Kyiv's months-long efforts to get fighter jets have been successful. After the European Community summit in Moldova last week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke of a "significant number" of aircraft for Ukraine. In addition, it had been agreed on the training of Ukrainian pilots, apparently also on F-16 jets. However, it will probably be some time before the jets are used in the Ukraine war.
Fighter jets for Ukraine – but still no pilot training
A list of Ukrainian pilots who are to travel abroad for fighter jet training is already in place, reports the portal Ukrayinska Pravda. But apparently not a single Ukrainian pilot has yet traveled abroad for training. Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said that just the first groups of specialists had left "to explore the possibility of training Ukrainian pilots."
Two F-16 Fighting Falcons during a NATO exercise over Lithuania. The so-called fighter jet coalition wants to train Ukrainian pilots on the machines. (Archive photo) © Petras Malukas/AFP
Ihnat added that the states of the so-called fighter jet coalition, including Great Britain, Poland, the Netherlands and the United States, want to train not only Ukrainian pilots directly, but also engineers and technicians.
Fighter jet coalition wants to train Ukrainian pilots
On Monday (5 June) there was a meeting in Kyiv between Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly. Shmyhal thanked Cleverly for his leadership in assembling the fighter jet coalition and his willingness to train Ukrainian pilots. Shmyhal said at the meeting that the first groups had been sent to the UK, but did not elaborate on who he meant, according to Ukrayinska Pravda.
As far as the time frame of the training is concerned and which groups travel to which countries for this purpose, they are always in contact with international partners, said Ihnat.
Ukraine has high hopes for the fighter jets, but an active F-16 pilot has warned against too high expectations. In addition, Ukraine faces logistical challenges: An F-16 Fighting Falcon usually requires a taxiing distance of up to 760 meters: too long for many runways in the country. Retrofitting at the airfields would be necessary. (LRG)