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First Group of Ukrainian Pilots Graduate F-16 Training in Arizona

The US Air National Guard confirmed the graduation of the first cohort of Ukrainian pilots from the F-16 training program in Arizona. Specific details like the number of graduates and the exact graduation date remain undisclosed for security reasons. However, this graduation marks a significant milestone for Ukraine’s air force.

The training program for Ukrainian F-16 pilots, initially expected to conclude by August, has been extended according to a U.S. Air National Guard spokesperson, Erin Hannigan. This timeframe is longer than what the Pentagon and Air National Guard first anticipated when training began last October.

“We’re thinking more long-term, so some of the requirements on them has shifted, and so that has necessitated a little bit longer [timeframe],” according to the director of the Air National Guard Michael Loh.

Airpower has become more prominent in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in recent weeks, with Russians using fixed-wing aircraft to support their latest offensive.

“Russians are using 300 planes on the territory of Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his recent interview with Reuters. “We need at least 120, 130 planes to resist in the sky”.

Having completed the F-16 program in Arizona, Ukrainian pilots will go to Europe to receive further training. This deployment coincides with Ukraine’s upcoming acquisition of over 60 advanced fighter jets, contributed by Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Earlier, Denmark announced that F-16 fighter jets will arrive in Ukraine this summer, and The Netherlands plans to begin sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine this autumn.

The US, alongside other nations, remains committed to providing Ukrainian pilots with the necessary training to operate these powerful aircraft.

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