On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden said that the United States would provide training to Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet.
Moreover, Biden indicated that he would not block the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from third countries, U.S. officials have indicated.
For months Ukraine has been trying to persuade its Western partners to greenlight the transfer of fighter jets.
F-16s to Ukraine?
Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House John Kirby said that President Joe Biden isn’t closing the door to a potential transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
There is bipartisan support on the Hill for transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, a group of Republican and Democrat lawmakers wrote a letter to President Biden urging the administration to provide or approve the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
“As a bipartisan group of lawmakers, we view the transfer of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine as essential for providing Kyiv with the air support capability required to fully defend their nation against Russia’s unprovoked, illegal, and brutal invasion, and to make the territorial gains necessary to reclaim their country,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter according to the CNN, which obtained a copy of the correspondence.
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom is pushing hard on its own accord to equip the Ukrainian Air Force with Western fighter jets, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
London has been very vocal and active in favor of arming Ukraine against Russia’s aggression.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated earlier in the week that he is trying to create an international coalition to provide Ukraine with fighter jets.
Denmark and the Netherlands are some of the countries that might contribute F-16s to Ukraine.
Training the Ukrainian Pilots
But there is a lot going on in favor of sending Ukraine F-16 fighter jets.
The U.S. Air Force conducted an assessment of how long it would take Ukrainian fighter pilots to be trained on the F-16. Instead of the 18 months that Pentagon officials had estimated training of Ukrainian pilots would take, the Air Force found that just four months would be adequate. Yahoo News obtained a copy of the Air Force’s report assessing that the Ukrainian pilots would be easier to train than previously thought.
According to the report, the main issue identified in the evaluation was the issue of language proficiency. The two Ukrainian fighter jet pilots who trained in the U.S. were not comfortable with the complex avionics and systems displayed within the cockpit of an F-16 Fighting Falcon. However, after almost 12 hours of flight time in the simulators, the Ukrainian pilots displayed a noted improvement in their English aptitude.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multi-role fighter jet. First entering service in the late 1970s, the F-16 specializes in air superiority but can accomplish several other mission sets. There are several variants of the aircraft in service, making the F-16 the most populous fixed-wing fighter jet in the world.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.