According to the spokesman of the Air Force of Ukraine Yurii Ihnat, quoted by Voice of America, two experienced pilots of the Armed Forces of Ukraine communicate with American specialists to investigate the level of knowledge and skills of Ukrainian military personnel who may be potentially involved in future training in the United States.
During the visit, the American military will check the level of knowledge of Ukrainians and how much time is needed for their training. This is necessary in order to draw up an algorithm of actions regarding the training of Ukrainian pilots, if, or when, a decision is made to provide Western fighter jets to Ukraine.
“Consultations are still ongoing, the Ukrainian side is closely cooperating on various fronts: diplomatically, militarily, and so on – with our partners. [If] a decision is made about that other type of aircraft, then we will already know the number of pilots and where to send them for this training. So far, the American side is studying the capabilities of our pilots and how much time they will need to retrain for modern fighters,” Ihnat said.
“In addition to pilots, an equally important factor is the training of the aviation engineering staff that will service this equipment. This is a very important moment because one plane is serviced by 10, or even more – dozens, let’s say, specialists who operate it every day, maintain and look after all systems. Therefore, this issue is also timely, and the preparation of the infrastructure is already being done in stages in Ukraine,” noted Colonel Ihnat, adding that the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine “is currently working on adapting airports, reserve airfields, operational airfields to receive these aircraft”.
“The aviation of the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine has determined the needs that are needed in Ukraine in fighter jets. In any case, it is necessary to replace the old fleet of Soviet aircraft, which is already working at the limit of its capabilities. These are the old planes that we have today: attack planes, bombers, and fighter jets, the youngest of which is from 1991, the same age as Ukrainian independence. We need wings to protect the country. We need Western-type aircraft, compatible with NATO countries,” emphasized Yurii Ihnat.
The presence of two Air Force of Ukraine pilots in the United States does not mean that the United States government has changed its position on the provision of Western fighter jets to the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and that pilot training will soon begin, followed by the transfer of the planes themselves.
The representative of the US Ministry of Defense stated that there is no new information about the possibility of transferring American F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, and emphasized that “it is about their training on their own planes, not about F-16.”