Ukrainian pilots began training on American F-16 aircraft

Article prepared for by the editorial team of the monthly magazine “Lotnictwo” and the website

As promised by John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council on August 12, the United States has joined the Ukrainian aviation personnel training program, thus complementing the efforts of European countries. As of September this year, Ukrainian pilots participated in a specialized language course in the USA. The purpose of this initial training is to familiarize foreign guests with aviation terminology used in radio correspondence and to enable them to correctly understand flight instructions and messages from the aircraft’s electronic systems.

F-16 basics training began Oct. 23 at Tucson Airport, where the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing is based. This is a special unit of the US Air Force whose main task is to train foreign pilots on F-16 aircraft. The wing has already trained employees from more than 25 countries in this field.

US Air Force/New Military Technology

F-16s during training exercises over the Grand Canyon, Arizona’s showcase.

The first part of the course, initiated by the Ukrainians, covers theory and practical exercises on simulators. According to the standard program, pilots spend approximately 245 hours in the classroom and 69 hours in the flight simulator at this stage.

After ground training, pilots will climb into a real F-16 for the first time as part of transition training. This stage lasts about three weeks and requires 10 trips. At this stage, there will be flights in two-seater aircraft with an instructor, and finally individual flights in single-seater aircraft. Conversion training covers takeoffs, landings, and instrument flights. At the end of this stage, students also fly at night using NVG goggles.

The training of Ukrainian pilots will cover selected combat scenarios that can be implemented in the current tactical situation on the front.US Air Force/New Military Technology

The training of Ukrainian pilots will cover selected combat scenarios that can be implemented in the current tactical situation on the front.

After mastering the basics of driving techniques, you will be able to start learning tasks related to combat use. It is mainly about air combat and attacking ground targets. According to the announcement, the training of Ukrainians in this area will be reduced to items that they will actually be able to use on the battlefield in the current tactical situation. Much will certainly depend on the range of weapons scheduled to be made available to pilots of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. The choice of weapons will likely be limited to a few basic types that will enable the most important tasks to be carried out.

Meanwhile, on October 22, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Colonel Yuriy Ignat confirmed that collective training in Europe was already at the stage of completing simulator training and would soon move to jet cabins. As Colonel Ahnat points out, Ukraine’s international partners praise the rapid progress of Ukrainian pilots in mastering the training program, noting that their preparation in the country has greatly contributed to this success.

In Europe, the Dutch promised to make their F-16s available for training of Ukrainian pilots.Marcin Strembski / New Military Technology

In Europe, the Dutch promised to make their F-16s available for training of Ukrainian pilots.

The goal of training Ukrainian personnel on F-16 aircraft is to prepare the 1st squadron for participation in the war in the spring of 2024. There is no doubt that the Russians currently have overwhelming numerical, technical and tactical superiority, so the Ukrainian aviation force, which is in a defensive position, will have to act Very carefully, so as not to lose too quickly the capabilities built on the basis of Western aircraft. So far, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Belgium have announced the delivery of dozens of F-16 aircraft. But the aircraft will be transferred in stages and their delivery will be extended until 2024-2025. Therefore, at first the number of fighters available will not be very large, and the individuals leading them will become very valuable.

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