Two US Representatives introduced a bill last week to train Ukrainian fighter pilots on American aircraft.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) authored the Ukraine Fighter Pilots Act to train Ukrainian pilots on American platforms in case the aircraft are deployed in the war against Russia.
“This bill would allow the US to begin training Ukrainian pilots and aircrew members on F-15’s, F-16’s, and other air platforms while the administration continues to consider sending such equipment,” a press release from Kinzinger’s office states.
Urges Administration to Rethink Plan
The statement adds that whether the US sends the equipment to Ukraine or not, the training would help the Ukrainian pilots in the long run.
Houlahan, who, like Kinzinger, is an air force veteran, urges the Biden administration to “rethink” its “strategic planning” regarding training the Ukrainian pilots.
“Because this conflict continues to rage on, we need to rethink our long-term strategic planning to help our Ukrainian allies — this includes training pilots on additional aircraft that might become available to them. It’s simple: should our military decide to transfer aircraft, we need their pilots to be ready to utilize them immediately,” she stated.
US Refusal to Supply Jets to Ukraine
The US has committed $4.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion began on February 24 and has delivered a raft of weapons ranging from shoulder-fired anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems, kamikaze and surveillance drones, to 155mm howitzers and mobile rocket systems.
However, the assistance package doesn’t include fighter jets, as they might escalate the war beyond Ukraine’s borders and because Ukrainian pilots are unfamiliar with Western aircraft.
However, the US has delivered spare aircraft parts to Ukraine, allowing the country to add up to 20 operational aircraft to its fleet. The US government declined an offer from Poland in March to turn its Mig-29 fleet over to the US so it could be sent to Ukraine. In return, the US was to compensate for the donated aircraft with F-16s.
Fighter Option ‘Should be Explored’
However, voices are growing in the US to explore the option of sending aircraft to Ukraine, starting with Soviet-era jets.
California National Guard commander Maj. Gen. David Baldwin was quoted by Politico this month that, “MiGs are the best immediate solution to support the Ukrainians, but US or western fighters are options that should be explored as soon as possible.”