Two Ukrainian pilots are in the US for an assessment to see how long it would take them to learn how to fly F-16 fighter jets or other advanced aircraft, NBC News reported on Saturday.
The report said this marks the first time Ukrainian pilots are in the US to have their skills evaluated, signaling the US is planning to eventually provide Kyiv with fighter jets, a step that would bring NATO and Russia closer to a direct confrontation.
The US has approved bringing up to 10 more Ukrainian pilots for the assessment as soon as this month. The two Ukrainian pilots that are currently in the US are having their skills evaluated using simulators at a military base in Tucson, Arizona.
Throughout the war, Ukrainian officials have been asking the US to provide advanced aircraft. President Biden said in a recent interview that he has ruled out the idea of sending F-16s to Ukraine “for now,” leaving open the possibility of providing them in the future.
If the US does decide to send F-16s to Ukraine, they could take years to deliver. Colin Kahl, the under-secretary of defense for policy, told the House Armed Services Committee last week that if the US builds new aircraft for Ukraine, it could take three to six years to deliver them. If the US sends older F-16s, it could take 18 to 24 months to refurbish and deliver them.
Kahl said that the Ukrainians have asked for 128 aircraft, including F-16s, F-15s, and F-18s. He said the US Air Force has determined Ukraine could use between 50 and 80 F-16s to replace its current air force, which would cost the US taxpayer up to $11 billion.
Kahl also gave a long timeline for the training period, saying it could take up to 18 months until Ukrainian pilots are proficient with the F-16. Other Pentagon officials speaking to NBC said it could be shorted to between six and eight months.
While the US and other NATO countries are preparing to train Ukrainian pilots, no NATO member has yet promised to provide Western-made aircraft. Last year, in the early days of the war, the Pentagon declined a Polish offer to send their Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine over a fear of the move escalating the war.
In March 2022, NATO diplomats told CNN that alliance members were concerned that by providing fighter jets, Russia would perceive that as NATO becoming directly involved in the war. But a year later, the Biden administration and its NATO allies seem much less concerned about the risk of provoking Moscow.
22 thoughts on “Two Ukrainian Pilots are in the US to Assess Training for F-16s, Other Aircraft”
If one knows how to fly a jet fighter, just how much training is needed to fly a different model? My commercial airline buddy usually goes to school for 4 weeks to learn to fly a new model. Less of course if the new plane is made by the same company that makes the models he is currently flying.
Obviously with a military jet you’re going to be doing maneuvers and attacks that you won’t be doing with a commercial plane, so I’m sure the training would be longer.
Imperial propaganda rags like NBC are nothing but amusing.
Let’s say Pentagon does send fighter jets to Ukraine. Who is gonna be the idiot in Europe allowing for these jets to take off? Kremlin openly said they will bomb any airbase that allows jets to fly to Ukraine.
“Kremlin openly said they will bomb any airbase that allows jets to fly to Ukraine.”
Really? When/where did the Kremlin say that?
Almost a year ago. When these morons were fantasizing about imperial no-fly zone.
Sorry if I was unclear. I was looking for an actual quote or link, not just your assurance that you remember something happening.
You don’t need to be sorry. I know what you meant. I said it was a year ago specifically because I cannot provide you what you seek. Statement was made on the official level but I don’t remember who made it and on what exact date.
They didn’t say that, though Russia did declare convoys of weapons to Ukraine were legitimate targets – leaving unspecified where it might strike a convoy en route.
Yea, it’s brinkmanship – and the reaction to the Ukrainian missile parts that killed people in Poland (falsely called Russian), and Biden’s ‘don’t you dare take one step across’ or however he put it, can be considered – among other things – a west response to the prospect of hitting a convoy on Polish territory.
But at same time, I’d argue that such a prospect is why Poland did NOT deliver fighter jets to Ukraine ‘independently’ – and a part of why the US backed out of supporting delivery after Poland proposed to hand the planes over to the US/NATO in Germany for delivery. Which the US ‘vetoed’ but Germany might also have rejected behind the scenes.
“Ryabkov said Russia ‘warned the U.S. that pumping weapons from a number of countries it orchestrates isn’t just a dangerous move, it’s an action that makes those convoys legitimate targets.’
If I was the Russian MoD, I’d be overjoyed that the US/EU/NATO/Ukraine are spending so much time and effort on obsolete weapons platforms like manned, fixed-wing aircraft. Every dime and every minute spent on that stuff is a dime and minute not being spent on additional air defense systems and on offensive unmanned drones in much larger numbers, for less money, than e.g. F-16s.
Yes, but . . . I doubt that the US is very serious about providing F-16s (or other Western warplanes) )and training Ukrainian pilots in significant numbers and expecting them to make a real difference in the course of the war — and I doubt that Russia is taking the prospect very seriously.
Leaving aside the escalatory risks, I don’t think anyone really believes that pilots with experience only in Soviet-style aircraft can make the shift to Western fighters quickly enough to be effective in combat in this war. The systems are radically different, from design philosophy to operational details.
I think the pilots cited here are at Davis-Monthan’s Air Combat Command training facilities. Last year, Ukrainian pilots were sent there for “exploratory” training and assessment of the possibility of providing A-10s. Nothing seems to have come of that exercise, which perhaps isn’t surprising. Warthogs would have very short life expectancies in the skies over Ukraine. So would F-16s, especially if flown by pilots with minimal experience.
ok – but i’d say it would be escalatory anyway – not just in the russian pov, but in getting nato to accept each added step in an escalatory spiral
Whether something is “escalatory” is really more about the reaction than about the thing itself.
The Russians have actually been pretty resistant to the temptation to react by “escalating.” They’ll complain that foreign actors are facilitating e.g. attacks on Russia proper and Crimea, but they haven’t attacked those foreign actors. That’s probably more a matter of clear thinking about potential consequences than a matter of extreme patience.
All I hear is more jets, weapons, escalation and war. It’s not fashionable to promote peace. Have you compared the people promoting war versus peace on TV/You-tube? People advocating peace have terrible make up and lighting (no offense, Dave). They are broadcasting from their recliners or garages if they’re lucky to own one. I suspect more people secretly dismiss peace advocates based on that factor than they admit. Promoting war is where the money is until most people die from nuclear war. (Sarcasm alert)
“While the US and other NATO countries are preparing to train Ukrainian pilots, no NATO member has yet promised to provide Western-made aircraft. Last year…the Pentagon declined a Polish offer to send their Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine over a fear of the move escalating the war.”
Dave, the US only ‘declined’ that ‘offer’ when it was a question of Poland doing it under the mantle of NATO:
the US repeatedly stated it was ok with Poland delivering those planes directly to Ukraine in a ‘non-NATO’ capacity;
it only said it would be “escalatory” when Poland proposed to ‘hand them over’ to the US/NATO Ramstein airbase in Germany – and for the US/NATO to deliver them.
Look at Poland’s language supporting airplanes now – it STILL underscores that it proposes giving planes as a NATO member.
Upshot: the US ‘ok-to-Poland-doing-it-privately’ was an act of brinkmanship – a dangerous, attempted ‘end run’ around an action the US itself had ruled out as too dangerous for NATO to engage in.
“Kahl also gave a long timeline for the training period, saying it could take up to 18 months until Ukrainian pilots are proficient with the F-16. Other Pentagon officials speaking to NBC said it could be shorted to between six and eight months.”
18 months to 6 to 8 months? Must be more of that “expedited” training. Sleeping will be eliminated.
“18 months to 6 to 8 months? Must be more of that ‘expedited training. Sleeping will be eliminated.”
pretty sure ‘expedited’ here means pack jet w/high explosive and teach 3 skills – horizontal, straight up, and ‘the slava ukraini dive.’
I don’t give a rat’s a$$. The shorter training they get the better. Are we trying to make it safer for Ukrainian fighter pilots or the Ukrainian people? If we wanted them safer, we would have negotiated a mutual security agreement before the war started. (Sarcasm alert)
But, unfortunately, the less training also puts innocents at risk.
You’re telling me that there might not just be one, but two more ghost of kievs? Russians are done for.
Hope these guys have personal security! Not everyone likes fascist Uko Trash!
In March 2022, NATO was concerned about perceived threats. By June 2022, one suspects that the concern turned to having most of their aircraft survive for more than 2 weeks. The $3 million+ cost per jet might also be a factor.
I say commission Tesla to design an AI system to fly the F-16 in combat. Should work well …. They can outsource the guidance system to Sokol.
Comments are closed.