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F-16 fighter jets will help Ukrainian Air Forces repel Russian drone and missile attacks more effectively

11 countries committed to begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets within the aviation coalition agreed upon during the NATO Summit in Vilnius. Preliminarily, training should start by the end of the summer.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft has its landing gear extended to land
at the US military airfield at Spangdahlem, Germany.
Photo: Harald Tittel / dpa / Reuters

F-16 fighter jets can significantly increase Ukraine’s capability to shut down Russian air targets, even though they cannot intercept ballistic missiles. “It [F-16 – ed.] can protect the sky from kamikaze drones and cruise missiles, thus increasing the percentage of destruction to 100. Currently, we have a success rate of 70-80% during massive Russian attacks, but with F-16s, this rate can reach its maximum,” stated Yurii Ihnat, Spokesman for the Air Force Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Moreover, these fighter jets will let Ukrainian air defense forces use less expensive missiles. “Big air defense systems play an important role. Anti-aircraft missile systems are meant to protect the Ukrainian airspace from Russian aviation, to maintain control over our own sky, and to defend large cities and objects that have strategic meaning for the country,” added Ihnat.

According to the Spokesman for the Air Force Command of the AFU, a six-month training program for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s is planned to begin at the end of August.

Ukrainian fighter pilot ‘Juice’ inside the MiG-29, raising three fingers to represent
the trident, the national symbol of Ukraine.
Photo: ‘Juice’ / Ukrainian Air Force

“Our pilots have already been preparing for the training; they have been waiting for this decision […] for about two months. Currently, our experts are working at various aviation bases within the aviation coalition, and the decision is still to be made where [our pilots – ed.] will undergo training,” emphasized Yurii Ihnat. He also noted that the training of Ukrainian pilots would probably be conducted at different airbases to speed up the process.

As the Spokesman for the Air Force Command explained, the training program will be able to evolve from year to year, and new specialists will continue to join, as the process of transitioning to NATO-standard aircraft cannot be completed in just six months.

“In six months, we can prepare several squadrons of these fighter jets [F-16 – ed.] to carry out the current tasks that we urgently need to fulfill today – liberating our territories, assisting our ground troops, and most importantly, gaining air superiority,” emphasized Yurii Ihnat.

As previously reported, transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine and training the Ukrainian pilots were among the main topics discussed at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12. As a result, 11 countries formed an aviation coalition and committed to training Ukrainian pilots.