Selection of pilots for F16 training completed: Ukraine MoD
The training is due to start once everything is "technologically" prepared.
Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Sunday that pilots for training on F-16 fighters have been selected.
He noted that the training is due to start once everything is "technologically" prepared.
"When all the conditions are technologically ready, we will start training. The main thing is that our pilots are ready, the air force command has already selected candidates — an appropriate number of pilots and also engineers, technicians, mechanics because such equipment needs not only piloting skills but also maintenance," Reznikov told an all-Ukrainian telethon.
Last Friday, Reznikov said Ukraine requires 48 F-16 fighters in order to take back the annexed territories. When asked to comment about the number of warplanes and the terms of their delivery to Ukraine, the official refused to comment.
Last week, the White House greenlighted the decision for itself and its Western partners to supply Kiev with US-made F16 jets, but that decision has been met with some reluctance in part of Germany and Portugal.
Though the two countries said they would not supply the aircraft to Kiev, they said they would assist Ukrainian troops through other means.
The White House said last week that the deliveries of F-16s are planned for the long term, not for Kiev's immediate operations.
Russia has called the delivery of the fighter jets another stage of escalation and warned that the warplanes will become a legitimate target for Russian forces.
"Certainly, this is an unacceptable escalation. I hope there are sensible people in the West who understand that," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
A report published earlier today by Bloomberg revealed that the F-16s that the West intends about giving Ukraine and that the latter is ecstatic about finally getting may be all bark and no bite, especially taking into consideration the might of the Russian air defense systems, battle-hardened F-16 pilots believe.
Soldiers who have flown the F-16 in combat said the fighter jet was not going to be a game-changer for Ukraine, as it would strictly be stuck between two areas: either on the defense or on the highly-risky offense, particularly in high-risk operations. The high risk stems from the fact that they would easily be shot down by Russia's advanced air defense systems.
Admittedly, the F-16s will be a much better alternative to the fighter jets that Ukraine currently has, as its aerial fleets are comprised of old, Soviet-era fighters that, while good at the time, are somewhat inadequate in today's day and age. Regardless, the F-16s Ukraine will be getting will still be no match to their Russian counterparts, as the fighters will have interior radars and shorter-range missiles than the fighters Russia has on its tarmacs.
Bloomberg revealed a harsh truth that needed to be said, saying clearly that Kiev will "have to rein in their stated expectations that the F-16s will enable them to impose air superiority", as well as enable Kiev's forces to intercept the highly sophisticated cruise missiles in Russia's possession in addition to its aircraft, inflicting major losses on the Russian artillery and soldiers, and sink the Black Sea Fleet.