1st Batch Of Ukrainian Fighter Pilots Complete F-16 Basic Training In UK; Get Ready For ‘Mission Russia’

The first group of Ukrainian fighter pilots undergoing training with the Royal Air Force has transitioned to mastering the skills of flying F-16 jets in Denmark, following the completion of their initial foundational program in the UK, according to the press service of the British government.

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Commencing in August, the RAF’s training efforts included providing instruction in both flying and English language skills. 

This initiative is part of the UK’s active participation in the international Air Force Capability Coalition for Ukraine, where allies and partners collaborate to strengthen Ukraine’s air capabilities through joint endeavors.

The British government also noted that the first group comprised six experienced  Ukrainian combat fighter pilots who underwent specialized English language training to enhance their proficiency in engaging with coalition training and support efforts.

Moreover, an additional ten Ukrainian trainee pilots participated in the language training program, choosing to remain in the UK for ongoing practical basic flight training. 

Their curriculum encompasses crucial aspects such as aviation medicine and centrifuge training, contributing to a comprehensive skill set for their aviation endeavors.

UK 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 defense in protecting Ukraine’s skies.”

The statement from the UK government closely follows the Netherlands’ announcement to deliver 18 US-made F-16 combat jets to Ukraine, a move made in response to the mounting challenges faced by Kyiv. However, a timeline for the delivery has not been designated.

In August, Denmark and the Netherlands jointly declared their pledge to provide up to 61 jets, contingent upon the completion of Ukrainian pilot training, with the approval of the United States.

In November, Amsterdam dispatched its first US-manufactured F-16s to a newly established training facility in Romania dedicated to Ukrainian pilots and staff. 

Furthermore, Romania recently unveiled an international training hub designed for F-16 jet pilots hailing from allied nations and collaborative partners, with Ukraine among them. Located at an air base in southeast Romania, the training facility is geared towards enhancing interoperability among NATO allies. 

British Assistance To Ukraine’s Military

Since Moscow launched a full-scale invasion, the United Kingdom has played a pivotal role in fortifying Ukraine’s air defenses. This support extends to the provision of hundreds of missiles and munitions, as well as radar and weapons systems.

During the initial months of the invasion, Ukraine faced significant vulnerability to attacks from Russian aircraft, drones, and missiles. However, with the assistance of the UK and its allies, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have made substantial progress. 

Ukrainian forces are now equipped to intercept and neutralize the vast majority of incoming ordnance, significantly enhancing the protection of their civilian population and critical infrastructure.

The UK is actively working to expedite efforts to assist Kyiv in acquiring F-16s at the earliest possible juncture. Defense Secretary Grant Shapps emphasized the joint commitment to propel Ukraine towards a future with a modernized air force. 

The foundation of this transformation lies in the adoption of the highly capable fourth-generation F-16 fighter jet. This strategic move is not only a significant departure from Ukraine’s current Soviet-era capabilities but also represents a substantial leap forward. 

Grant Shapps pointed out the crucial role of training provided by the “renowned Royal Air Force” (RAF), highlighting that the collaboration aims to equip Ukraine with cutting-edge technology and expertise, ensuring a robust defense apparatus for the future. 

F-16 Fighting Falcon

The UK government said that the training program has been structured to impart trainee pilots with the necessary skills to progress to the subsequent phase of training on fighter jets alongside partner nations, aligning future Ukrainian pilots with a NATO standard approach to flying.

Trainee aviators enrolled in the foundational flight training program are actively involved in hands-on lessons using Grob Tutor aircraft under the guidance of seasoned RAF instructors.

In tandem with pilot training, numerous Ukrainian aircraft technicians are concurrently undergoing English language training tailored to engineering disciplines and reinforcing a comprehensive approach to enhancing both flying and technical capabilities. 

The UK is poised to sustain this backing for Ukrainian pilots and ground crew throughout 2024, underscoring a steadfast commitment to fostering the growth and proficiency of Ukraine’s aviation capabilities.