American military instructors will assess the skill level of Ukrainian pilots and determine the duration of their training program to work on attack aircraft.
Two pilots from Ukraine flew to the US military base in Tucson, Arizona, and US authorities have approved sending 10 more Ukrainian pilots there in the near future, NBS reports, citing two representatives of Congress and a senior US official.
According to the resource, the arrival of Ukrainian pilots at the American military base has two goals. Their piloting skills will be assessed by American military instructors, and Ukrainian pilots will also be trained to work on attack aircraft, including the F-16, and, based on their skills, the duration of the further training program will be determined.
“The program is about evaluating their ability as pilots so we can better advise them on how to take advantage of the opportunities that they have and that we have given them,” an administration official said.
Representatives of Congress emphasized that during their stay in the United States, pilots will not sit at the controls of real aircraft. The pilots will work with a simulator that can simulate flights on various types of aircraft. As for the transfer of the F-16 to Ukraine, the sources stressed that there is no new information on this issue.
Earlier, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl told the House Armed Services Committee that the US had not made a decision to provide the F-16 and had no US allies or partners. He noted at the same time that the US had not started F-16 training and that the delivery times were the same as the training times, i.e. approximately 18 months.
“So you don’t actually save your time by starting training at the start of our evaluation. And since we haven’t made the decision to deliver the F-16, nor have our allies and partners, it makes no sense to start training them in a system they may never get it,” he said.
According to other representatives of the US defense department, training can last much less – from 6 to 9 months, depending on the qualifications of the pilots, their skills and knowledge of the fighters.
The Ukrainian side, in turn, informed the United States and other allies that at the moment there are at least two dozen pilots who are ready to be trained in the United States to fly the F-16, and about 30 more people who can be trained in the near future.
F-16 training with a simulator
Answering a question about the assessment of the two Ukrainian pilots, a representative of the US Department of Defense called it “familiarization.”
“This is a routine activity in our dialogue with Ukraine. The ‘introduction event’ is essentially a discussion between Air Force personnel and observation of how the US Air Force operates. This event allows us to better help Ukrainian pilots become more effective pilots and give them best advice on how to develop your own capabilities,” explained the US DoD man. However, he clarified that “there are no plans in the near future to increase the number of pilots beyond the two that are currently in Tucson, but we do not close the door to future opportunities.”
In February, US President Joe Biden ruled out deliveries of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in the near future. According to him, they send first of all what the country needs in the first place: tanks, air defense systems, ammunition, HIMARS. This is necessary so that Ukraine can carry out a successful counteroffensive in the spring or summer.
Earlier, Focus wrote that the United States announced a $2 billion aid package on the anniversary of the war.
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