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Ukrainian Pilots Learn to Fly F-16 Fighter Jets Following Basic Training in the UK

The first cohort of Ukrainian pilots to receive training from the Royal Air Force are now learning to fly F-16 fighter jets, having completed a basic programme of training in the UK.

The RAF began delivering flying and English language training in August as part of the UK contribution to the international Air Capability Coalition for Ukraine, which will see allies and partners working together to bolster Ukraine’s air capabilities.

The group was formed of six experienced Ukrainian combat fighter pilots who received aviation-specific English language training to increase their ability to engage with coalition training and support.

A further ten Ukrainian trainee pilots took part in the language training but remained in the UK to continue with practical elementary flight training, as well as important skills such as aviation medicine and centrifuge training.

“Combined with training from the world-leading RAF, this is a significant step forward from Ukraine’s current Soviet-era capabilities." Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said, “I am proud of the support the Royal Air Force is providing to the next generation of Ukraine’s combat air pilots and ground crew, who will be the first line of defence in protecting Ukraine’s skies. The UK has been instrumental in building Ukraine’s air defences since Putin launched his full-scale invasion, providing hundreds of missiles and munitions, as well as radar and weapons systems. While Ukraine was highly vulnerable to attack from Russian aircraft, drones, and missiles in the early months of the invasion – with support from the UK and our allies, its Armed Forces are now able to intercept and destroy the overwhelming majority of incoming ordinance – protecting their civilian population and vital infrastructure. Together we’re now going further by ensuring Ukraine has a credible air force in the future, formed around the highly capable fourth-generation F-16 fighter jet."

The programme is designed to give trainee pilots the skills required to advance to the next phase of training on fighter jets with partner nations and to bring future Ukrainian pilots closer to a NATO standard approach to flying.

Pilots undergoing the elementary flight training scheme are conducting practical lessons in Grob Tutor aircraft with experienced RAF instructors, learning general handling procedures, instrument flying, medium and low-level navigation, and formation flying.

Once they have completed their training with the RAF, pilots will receive advanced flying training in another Air Capability Coalition country, to prepare them for training on the F-16 aircraft, operated by countries including Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States.

The Prime Minister confirmed the UK’s intent to support the Air Capability Coalition last year with basic flying training, as the UK does not operate the F-16 aircraft, Ukraine has selected to develop its future air force around. The UK will continue this support to Ukrainian pilots and ground crew in 2024.

Alongside pilot training dozens of Ukrainian aircraft technicians are receiving English language training, geared towards engineering, to enable them to engage with coalition training and support. Further, the RAF has also provided support, alongside the British Army, in delivering training to over 30,000 Ukrainian soldiers in the UK.

Last year, the Defence Secretary announced the UK will aim to train a further 10,000 Ukrainian recruits in the first half of 2024 as part of Operation Interflex. Beyond providing a broad range of training programmes, the UK continues to support Ukraine to push back Russian forces. As part of the £4.6 billion worth of UK military support, we have provided long-range missiles, western main battle tanks, and logistical support to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.




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