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First Group of Ukrainian Pilots Completes F-16 Training in the US

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Photo: First Group of Ukrainian Pilots Completes F-16 Training in the US. Source: US Air Force
Photo: First Group of Ukrainian Pilots Completes F-16 Training in the US. Source: US Air Force

A segment of Ukrainian pilots has completed training on F-16 fighter jets at the 162nd Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, according to Air & Space Forces Magazine.

Captain Erin Hannigan, spokesperson for the National Guard, confirmed the completion of the training but declined to specify the number of pilots who graduated or the exact date of completion, citing operational security concerns. She added that some Ukrainian pilots are still undergoing training in the US.

Ukrainian pilots arrived in Tucson in several groups. Initially, four pilots began their training at the end of October last year, with another four starting at the end of January. The remaining pilots are expected to complete their training by August, as previously indicated by Pentagon representatives.

"We are thinking about the long-term perspective, so some requirements have changed, necessitating a slightly longer training period," said Lieutenant General Michael A. Loh, Director of the Air National Guard, at a combat operations symposium in February this year.

Recently, the air force has played a more significant role in Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russian aircraft are being used to support their latest offensive in the Kharkiv region. Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have increasingly been successful in downing enemy aircraft, including SU-25 fighters, with over five successful shoot-downs reported in the past two weeks. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has stated that Ukraine needs at least 120 F-16 aircraft to counter Russian air forces effectively.

Last year, the US and Western European countries initiated parallel training programs for pilots and technical personnel. These programs are coordinated by the Ukrainian Air Force Coalition within the Defence Contact Group, led by Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States. Some European countries are also training Ukrainian pilots who will eventually fly the F-16s.

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