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The F-16 training center for Ukrainian pilots opened in Romania

The European F-16 Training Center (EFTC) will become an international hub for training F-16 pilots from NATO countries and its allies, including Ukraine. It was officially opened on November 13. 

“An F-16 pilot training center has started operations, our guys will undergo training there. I thank President Iohannis of Romania and Prime Minister Rutte of the Netherlands for ensuring the implementation of all our agreements,” commented President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Two Romanian Air Force F-16 perform fly-bys during the inauguration event
of the European F-16 Training Center inside the 86th Fetești Air Base.
November 13, 2023. Fetești, Romania.
Photo: George Calin / Reuters

The training center in Romania will operate at 86 Fetești Air Base. The center will become an international hub for the training of F-16 pilots. It will contribute to increased interoperability between allies by training Romanian pilots and pilots from allied and partner states, including Ukraine.

On November 13, the Minister of National Defence of Romania, Angel Tîlvăr, and the Minister of Defence of the Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren, inaugurated the training center in Romania.

“I signed, during the Vilnius NATO Summit, Romania’s participation in the establishment of the International F-16 Coalition, alongside a significant number of states. This demonstrated what we could achieve together in support of Ukraine, while providing a platform conducive to calibrating our efforts with those of the Allies and regional partners. We are currently analyzing the most effective ways to integrate the training of Ukrainian pilots into the program, as soon as possible,” Minister Tîlvăr stated at the inauguration ceremony.

The Romanian official also highlighted the excellent cooperation between Romania, the Netherlands, and the Lockheed Martin company, which has provided training and maintenance for the fighter jets. Due to the parties’ joint efforts, such a complex project was turned into reality in the shortest possible time.

An F-16 from the Netherlands is ready for departure.
Photo: Official website of the Dutch Ministry of Defence

On November 7, the Dutch Ministry of Defence reported 5 Dutch F-16 fighter jets on their way to the European F-16 Training Center in Romania. The Netherlands took the initiative to set up the EFTC and was making 12 to 18 F-16s available for this purpose. The aircraft are intended for Romanian and Ukrainian pilot training. 

Read more: Ukrainian pilots are mastering F-16 fighter jets using simulators as part of their military training.

On November 10, Yurii Ihnat, Spokesman of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, informed that “some Ukrainian pilots” have already started flight training with instructors on F-16 fighter jets. In addition, US Brigadier General Patrick Ryder reported during a briefing on October 31 that Ukrainian pilots will need “from five to nine months” to complete the training on F-16s.