F-16 Supply to Ukraine Will Take Several Months at Best – US Air Force

Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Delivering F-16 fighters to Ukraine will take "a few months at best".

The US President's Administration has provided few details on a plan to equip the Ukrainian Air Force with American-made fighter jets or other fourth-generation aircraft after Joe Biden announced on 19 May that the US would support joint training exercises for Ukrainians.

US personnel will reportedly participate in the training alongside its allies and partners in Europe.

US Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said it would be at least "several months" before Ukraine could operate the F-16. He stressed that a number of details would need to be worked out before the Ukrainian Air Force could fly Western aircraft in large quantities.

"We are not under any circumstances going to get F-16s or another Western fighter in significant numbers into the hands of the Ukrainian Air Force in something less than at least several months,"  CNN cites Frank Kendall.

A few months is a relatively quick timeframe, as according to a US Air Force official, it usually takes more than two years to train a new US pilot on this aircraft. Even a retraining course for an F-16 pilot who has been away from flying the aircraft for some time can take up to five months.

The US has been publicly arguing for months that fighter jets are not a top priority and will quickly exhaust its available funds to help Ukraine instead of more important weapons such as Abrams tanks and Patriot air defence missile systems.

Earlier, the US Department of State said that the United States prioritises providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets and will work to achieve this goal in the coming months.

Last week, the United Kingdom announced the launch of an international coalition of countries aimed at training Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including the F-16s. The coalition already includes the UK, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmarkthe United States and Portugal.

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