A U.S. official said the U.S. has pledged to approve the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine once the training is completed.
The plan is to ensure Ukraine has the long-sought fighter jet the moment pilots complete training on the F-16.
Denmark and the Netherlands are leading plans to train Ukrainian pilots on US jets, but the US is still working with other countries to see who can supply F-16s to the Ukrainian air force.
On Friday, the U.S. approved the transfer of F-16 training materials from Denmark to Ukraine, according to a U.S. official and administration official.
The transfer will allow the Danish Defense Ministry to move forward “with their efforts to sustain pilot and maintenance training programs,” the administration official said. The approval includes training modules, documents and classroom training materials, which contain information about US technology, the official said.
Approval of a third-party transfer request from Denmark is one of the critical steps before Ukrainian fighter pilots begin training to operate fourth-generation jets. Denmark said Ukrainian pilots would begin training on F-16 jets later this month, part of an 11-nation coalition involved in the training program.
In a sign of U.S. support for the plan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken sent letters to his counterparts in Denmark and the Netherlands, pledging the Biden administration’s “full support” for the transfer of the jets and moving quickly when. Advanced flight training completed.
“You have my assurance that we will timely approve third-party transfer requests as necessary to enable delivery upon completion of the exercise, including the required notification to our Congress,” Blinken wrote in the letters.
Reuters first reported that the US had approved the replacement of the jets.
A one-page training concept from the Danish Ministry of Defense laid out a six-month plan to prepare pilots and ground crews to operate the fighter jet.
But the United States has yet to receive a formal training program to familiarize and prepare Ukrainian pilots for the fourth-generation fighter jet. Although many countries fly the F-16, the United States must sign off on the transfer of training materials, simulators and manuals for the jet because it carries an American aircraft’s sensitive technology.
“We want to get them there as quickly as possible,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Thursday. “The other thing you have to wrap up here is the training piece. You have to make sure you have enough pilots and that they have proper English proficiency and then put them through that training.
“We think we can start that training here relatively soon,” Kirby added.
Nevertheless, Ukraine said on Wednesday that it does not expect to receive the F-16s until then Sometime next year.
“It has already become clear that we will not be able to defend Ukraine with F-16s this fall and winter,” Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said during an appearance on Ukrainian state television on Wednesday.
On Friday, the commander of U.S. air forces in Europe and Africa said Ukrainian pilots learning to fly F-16 fighter jets are receiving language training in England because of all the materials and equipment on board the jet. English, before they start flying training aircraft.
“They’re going to get a little more training [propellor aircraft] Then go to France and fly an Alpha Jet for a while,” said General James Hecker. The Alpha Jet was used by the French as an advanced jet trainer.
“Everything takes time, and it’s not going to happen by the end of the year, so it’s going to be a while,” Hecker said. “That’s why it will be at least next year until we see F-16s in Ukraine.”
Hecker said the Ukrainian pilots participating in the F-16 training program are junior pilots who have “no time” and are not currently in combat.
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