US F-16s Are Exceeding the Expectations of Ukraine’s Pilots: Report

Ukrainian pilots training on US F-16s have expressed their admiration for the fighter jets, according to a report by the Ukrainian service of the Voice of America. The pilots, including one known as “Phantom”, praised the F-16 for exceeding their expectations and offering great prospects for the Ukrainian Air Force. Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced last August that the US would begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 jets to strengthen Ukraine’s long-term defenses, while the UK’s Royal Air Force also began training in August. Although challenges exist in retraining pilots who have been accustomed to flying older Russian-built Su-27s and MiG-29s, international supporters are providing air assistance for Ukraine’s air defenses. Ukraine highly values the pilot training provided by the UK and other partners, as it equips Ukrainian pilots with the skills needed in the war against Russia. Ukraine is expected to see action against Russian forces after several months. The Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway are offering as many as 60 F-16s to Ukraine, as reported by The Telegraph. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft used in both air-to-air and air-to-surface combat, capable of carrying various armaments and flying long distances during air-to-surface operations. The Atlantic Council think tank has expressed doubts about whether the F-16 would be a game changer in the war, as Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile systems pose a serious threat to all Ukrainian jets. Nonetheless, the effort spent training Ukrainian pilots, ground crews, and logisticians to operate and maintain these aircraft will have long-term value.

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