The U.S. will support a joint international effort to train Ukrainian pilots on modern fighter aircraft, including F-16s, President Joe Biden informed G-7 leaders on Friday in Japan.
According to a senior administration official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter before it was announced, the training will take place outside Ukraine at a site in Europe and will require months to complete. Officials hope to begin the training in the coming weeks, the official said.
The coalition of countries participating in the effort will decide when to actually provide the jets, how many to send and who will transfer them as the training takes place over the coming months.
Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands all have surplus aircraft that could be sent, according to a person familiar with the discussions. However, it will take some time to do the required rework and maintenance to get them into flying shape.
The move to begin training will “further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force,” the official said.
The F-16s likely won’t arrive in Ukraine in time for the anticipated spring counteroffensive. The U.S., partners and allies have already provided Ukraine with “the vast majority” of what it needs to conduct its counteroffensive this spring and summer, the official said. Efforts to improve the Ukrainian Air Force “reflect our long-term commitment to Ukraine’s self-defense,” the official said.
Still, the move sends “a powerful signal of how the United States and our allies and partners are fully united in ensuring Ukraine remains sovereign, independent, and secure with the ability to defend against and deter future attacks.”
The post Biden agrees to joint fighter jet training for Ukrainian pilots appeared first on Politico.