Ukraine Wants More Pilots Trained on F-16 But Allies Have No More Room: Report

Ukraine wants more of its military pilots trained on the F-16 but its Western allies are unable to fill the demand, according to a report by Politico, citing three unnamed sources.

Ukrainian officials are reportedly pressing the US and its international partners to free up seats at their F-16 training facilities to accommodate more Ukrainian pilots.

There are 30 Ukrainian pilots who are now eligible to receive training, but the F-16 school in Tucson, Arizona, can at most accept 12 additional trainees.

Though the training facility is large, other countries have existing contracts with the US to train their F-16 pilots there.

“We understand they don’t want to break those contracts, but they could move their American pilots to a different base for training,” Ukrainian lawmaker Sasha Ustinova said.

There are also F-16 training facilities in Denmark and Romania, but the former has only taken eight Ukrainian pilots while the latter has yet to start its training. And even if it does, Bucharest reportedly plans to train only eight pilots from Kyiv at a time.

Mostly Reserved

Arizona National Guard spokesperson Maj. Erin Hannigan confirmed that there is currently limited space at their F-16 training facility because other countries have made reservations.

Funding is also a major factor for the limited slots.

“On top of the Ukrainian students, there are multiple other countries that have reserved training throughout the year,” Hannigan explained. “The number of foreign student pilots and where they come from is not determined by our schoolhouse.”

Meanwhile, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. Charlie Dietz said “dozens” of pilots from several countries are indeed conducting basic flight training in the US.

However, a training plan is currently being implemented to help allies meet forecasted aircraft fielding timelines.

Unlikely to Field Full Squadron Before 2025

With the shortfall in trainers and facilities, it is estimated that Ukraine will only have 20 trained F-16 pilots by the end of this year.

It might not be enough for a full squadron, which consists of 18 to 24 jets and typically fields several more pilots.

A total of 85 F-16 fighter jets have been promised to Ukraine by Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Initial deliveries are expected by the second quarter of this year.

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