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US Democrats Push Pentagon to Expand Training for Ukrainian F-16 Pilots


A group of Democrats in the US House of Representatives is urging the Pentagon to expand training for Ukrainian F-16 pilots.

Led by Representative Adam Schiff, legislators are backing Ukraine's request to train an additional 10 Ukrainian pilots on F-16s this year. They are asking Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to approve this request in a letter.

“The request comes at a critical juncture in Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia, where the deployment of F-16 aircraft has the potential to significantly influence the outcome of the war,” states the letter from 15 lawmakers received by Politico.

“By the end of the year, Ukraine will have more F-16 aircraft than they will have qualified pilots to fly them, this situation threatens to undermine the strategic advantages these aircraft could provide Ukraine," they added.

American lawmakers argue that NATO allies have extensive training programs and could meet Ukraine's request for additional training. However, they want the Pentagon to take the lead in this process, noting it "may provide the most expedient means" to expand the program.

“This effort not only enhances Ukraine’s ability to utilize the F-16s effectively but also reinforces the broader coalition’s commitment to supporting Ukraine in its fight for sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the letter concluded.

Last year, President Joe Biden approved the transfer of aircraft to Ukraine from Norway, Belgium, Denmark, and the Netherlands, but pilot training has faced logistical challenges.

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