Ukrainian F-16 maintenance specialists return after overseas training


The first group of Ukrainian specialists trained in F-16 fighter jet maintenance has started returning to Ukraine, Air Force spokesman Illya Yevlash announced on the Pryamyy TV channel on May 22.

"There is never too great a number of this kind of specialist," Yevlash stated, emphasizing the value of these highly skilled technicians. "The first specialists in this field have already begun to return to Ukraine."

These technicians are expected to disseminate their newfound knowledge among their peers within the Ukrainian military, significantly bolstering the country's air defense capabilities.

Yevlash also highlighted that Ukraine has recently acquired its first F-16 simulator, a donation from Czechia, which will be instrumental in ongoing training efforts. "A pilot who takes to the skies on an F-16 fully entrusts his life to the engineer who maintains this aircraft," he added, underscoring the critical role of these maintenance specialists.

This development follows reports that ten Ukrainian servicemen completed their training in the Netherlands for F-16 fighter jet maintenance earlier.

F-16 fighters for Ukraine

Read also: Zelenskyy outlines needs for successful counteroffensive

The Netherlands and Denmark promised in August 2023 to jointly provide Ukraine with 61 American F-16 fighter jets. This was preceded by a transfer authorization from the United States.

Norway has also confirmed its intention to supply F-16s. Belgium will also provide Ukraine with F-16s, but in 2025.

The Netherlands announced its decision to begin preparations for the transfer of the first 18 aircraft to Ukraine in December, and later increased this number to 24. In total, the country has promised Kyiv 42 fighters.

The tentative timeline for the delivery of the fighter jets to Ukraine was the first half of 2024.

Read also: Denmark to deliver F-16s within few months— PM Frederiksen

The first F-16s would arrive in Ukraine around June 2024, Foreign Policy reported on Feb. 18, 2024, citing European officials. Commenting on this, the then spokesman for the Ukrainian Air Force, Yuriy Ihnat, noted that it was impossible to talk about specific dates for the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine by foreign partners.

Read also: Ukraine to receive first F-16 jets after Easter celebrations - UA Air Force

The first 10 Ukrainian pilots had completed basic flight, ground, and language training on F-16 fighters in Britain, the UK government announced on March 22. The military will now move on to advanced flight training provided by the French Air Force.

Western F-16 fighter jets should appear in Ukraine's skies in mid-summer, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on March 27.

Dutch Defense Minister Kees Ollongren on May 6 announced that country plans to start sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in fall. At the same time, Danish Ambassador to Kyiv Ole Egberg Mikkelsen said that planes would arrive this summer.

The first Western F-16 fighter jets would arrive in Ukraine within a few weeks, on May 10, The Standard reported, citing a high-ranking military source.

Read also: Ukraine needs 120-130 F-16 jets to counter Russian air power — Zelenskyy

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