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Denmark starts training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s

August 23, 2023 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Ukrainian pilots have begun training on the F-16, a piece of military hardware they deem essential to counter Russian air superiority. A number of Ukrainian engineers and technicians are also undergoing training, in addition to the eight pilots.

RDAF F-16BM #ET-198 from Esk. 727 is parked with opened canopy inside a shelter at Skrydstrup AB on February 20th, 2017. [ photo by John Bennett]

It is unclear when the last day of training will be but the instructors will announce the completion of training when they are satisfied the pilots, engineers, and technicians have mastered their new skills. There seems to be a minimal term of six months though.

Trainees will also get English-language training in technical terminology, as the basic level of English language is not good enough.

The F-16 training program is being supported by a coalition of 11 NATO countries and requires official US approval because the jets are American technology. The US recently committed to approve the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine as soon as training is complete.

Denmark and the Netherlands have taken the lead in preparing a program to train Ukrainian pilots on the American jet, but the US is still working with other countries to see who may provide F-16s to the Ukrainian Air Force.

Last Friday, the US approved the transfer of F-16 instructional materials from Denmark to Ukraine. The transfer allows the Danish defense ministry to move forward with its effort to stand up pilot and maintenance training programs. The approval includes training modules, documentation, and classroom training materials, the official said, which contain information about sensitive US technology.

Officials from a coalition of 11 nations have said training will take place in Denmark and Romania.

Over 73 Ukrainian military personnel arrived at the Danish military air base in Skrydstrup for training, among which eight pilots. Ukraine expects several dozens of pilots to be trained.

Romania is the most recent country within NATO to get its hands on F-16s. The Romanian Air Force has been notably resourceful in growing its F-16 fleet, starting with a batch of 12 second-hand jets from Portuguese stocks, followed by another five from the same source, and finally agreeing to buy 32 from Norway, which has retired all its Vipers. These last 32 jets will be delivered once they have been refurbished in Norway.

Greece also offered to train Ukrainian pilots with the Hellenic Air Force 120 Air Training Wing at Kalamata Air Base.

The Greek Air Force consists mostly of F-16 jets and Greek pilots are considered extremely experienced in the use of the US-built warplanes.

The Netherlands and Denmark will supply F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine with first deliveries due around New Year. Both countries have F-16s available to donate as their armed forces are transitioning to newer F-35 fighters.

Denmark will deliver 19 jets in total, with the first six due to be shipped to Ukraine around New Year, followed by eight in 2024 and five the following year.

The Netherlands has 42 F-16s available in all but has yet to decide whether all of them will be donated.

The Netherlands and Denmark have led a months-long push to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s and ultimately deliver the jets to help counter the air superiority of Russia, whose forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Additional images:

HAF F-16C block 52 #538 from 340 Mira is taking off from Kleine Brogel AB on September 13th, 2021 flying back home after the Sanicole airshow. [Photo by John de Winter]

RDAF F-16AM #E-011 from Esk 727 is on display in the hangar at Aalborg AB on June 9th, 2007. [Photo by Erik Frikke]

RDAF F-16AM #E-006 during storage at Aalborg AB after the landing accident at Bagram AB, Afghanistan. Is was repaired and has returned back to service. Photographed at Aalborg AB on September 16th, 2003. [Photo by Erik Frikke]