President Joe Biden has informed G7 leaders that the US would support a concerted effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots in the use of combat aircraft, including F-16s. The White House confirms this after earlier reports to that effect had appeared in American media.
The training is expected to take place entirely in Europe. However, American personnel will participate in the training together with allies in Europe. It is expected to take several months.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who will attend the G7 summit in Japan, called the decision “historic” on Twitter. Zelensky has repeatedly urged his Western allies to provide fighter jets.
The US participation in the possible training does not mean that the US has already decided to deliver fighter jets to Ukraine. “As training takes place over the next few months, the coalition of countries participating in this effort will decide whether we will actually provide aircraft, how many we will provide and who will provide them,” the official told CNN.
In March, the US hosted two Ukrainian pilots at a military base in Tucson, Arizona, to evaluate their skills using flight simulators and assess how long it would take them to learn how to fly various US military aircraft. including F-16s. The US Congress has earmarked money for such training in the 2023 budget.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte says he is pleased with the decision. “The details will be worked out in the coming weeks,” Rutte said on Twitter.
His British, Danish and Belgian colleagues also ‘welcome’ the news from the US, Rutte writes. ‘Ukraine can continue to count on the unwavering support of the Netherlands and its international partners.’
Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren agrees with Rutte’s words. The conditions are being worked on together with ‘our closest allies’ Denmark, Belgium and the United Kingdom. “We are ready to support Ukraine in this,” Ollongren tweeted.