Ukrainian Pilots Advance in F-16 Training in U.K.

The 10 combat aviators will now undergo advanced fast jet training, the Royal Air Force said.

A group of 10 Ukrainian pilots have completed the first steps in F-16 flight training with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. [Courtesy: Royal Air Force]

A group of 10 Ukrainian pilots have completed the first steps in F-16 Fighting Falcon flight training with the Royal Air Force in the U.K.

The aviators graduated from elementary flight training Friday and were recognized in a ceremony marking the milestone. 

[Courtesy: Royal Air Force]

"RAF flying instructors have taught the pilots general handling, instrument flying, low-level navigation, and advanced formation flying to prepare the pilots for advanced fast jet flying training prior to F-16 conversion with coalition partners," the RAF said. "On the ground they completed an aviation medicine course and high G-force centrifuge training. Babcock provided the Grob Tutor aircraft along with technical and operational support. Together with the RAF team they completed the training ahead of time with 100 percent aircraft availability."

The pilots will now progress to advanced fast jet training and conversion to the F-16 with partner nations from the Air Force Capability Coalition, the RAF said.

At least a dozen Ukrainian pilots continue to train with the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard (ANG) at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, with the first four expected to finish by May.

 [Courtesy: Royal Air Force]

“I would like to congratulate these brave pilots on completing their initial training here in the U.K.," British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said during Friday’s event. "Thanks to the world-renowned skills of the RAF, they have received some of the best training available and are now a step closer to joining the fight against [Russia President Vladimir] Putin’s illegal invasion."

On Wednesday, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said the Netherlands will be supplying Ukraine with advanced reconnaissance drones, as well as 350 million euros for F-16 ammunition, Reuters reported. The country, along with Denmark and the U.S., are planning to deliver the first of dozens of the fighters to Ukraine this summer.

 [Courtesy: Royal Air Force]

Ukrainian defense officials have long sought access to the aircraft following Russia’s invasion in 2022.

“The conflict in Ukraine highlights the importance of air and space power, and the need to gain and maintain control of the air to defeat an enemy," Air Chief Marshal Richard Knighton, RAF's chief of the air staff, said during the ceremony. "I salute the courage and determination of these Ukrainian pilots.”

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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