The UK Royal Air Force has begun training Ukrainian airmen in Denmark to operate the F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft.
The announcement follows an initiative launched in August as part of the UK’s contribution to the Air Force Capability Coalition for Ukraine, a multinational program providing tactical training and systems to enhance Kyiv’s aerial capabilities against Russian forces.
The trainees in Copenhagen include six experienced Ukrainian fighter pilots who received aviation-specific English language training under the Royal Air Force.
A group of 10 additional Ukrainian personnel participated in the language training and will remain in the UK to proceed with their practical basic flight, centrifuge, and airborne medicine lessons.
Practical sessions are led by Royal Air Force instructors and are facilitated with the aid of the Grob Tutor lightweight elementary flight training aircraft.
Lessons include general handling procedures, medium and low-level navigation, instrument flying, and formation flying.
Turning From Soviet-Era Capabilities
The UK Ministry of Defence wrote that the F-16 course will equip Ukrainian airmen with experiences that will help them complete other aircraft training with allied partners and bring their maneuvering skills “closer to a NATO standard approach.”
“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,” UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps stated.
“Together we’re now going further by ensuring Ukraine has a modern air force in the future, formed around the highly capable fourth-generation F-16 fighter jet.”
“Combined with training from the world-leading [Royal Air Force], this is a significant step forward from Ukraine’s current Soviet-era capabilities.”
‘Rapid and Effective’
Once their British-led F-16 training is complete, the Ukrainian pilots will receive an advanced flight course from another European nation.
The UK clarified that the reason it had only provided basic Fighting Falcon training is because the country does not operate the aircraft in its fleet, a platform Ukraine chose to “develop its future air force around.”
Alongside pilots, London’s F-16 training supports Ukrainian aircraft technicians with English language training. The overall operator and ground crew training is expected to proceed through 2024.
“Ukraine highly values the pilot training that the UK and other partners are providing, to help us prepare for operating F-16s in Ukraine,” Ukrainian Defence Minister Rustem Umerov said.
“It is a rapid and effective programme to equip Ukrainian pilots with the skills they need in the war against Russia.”