Ukrainian pilots are “very impressed” with US F-16 fighter jets, the Ukrainian service of the Voice of America reported.
A pilot who glided by the decision signal “Phantom” stated in an interview with the outlet that Ukrainian pilots coaching on the multirole fighters within the US and Europe had praised the plane.
“Our pilots are very impressed,” he stated. “This plane simply exceeded their expectations. Even with the amount of information they have received during training, they already see great prospects and great potential for how this aircraft will help our Air Force.”
And you may think about that there is info that they have not realized but, have not given them but, about what else this plane may be able to.”
But “Phantom” added that retraining pilots on the advanced aircraft did present certain challenges as many were accustomed to flying older Russian-built Su-27s and MiG-29s.
Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder announced in August that the US would begin training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 jets “in assist of the worldwide effort to develop and strengthen Ukraine’s long-term defenses.”
The US started training Ukrainian pilots in October, while Britain’s Royal Air Force began in August, putting pilots through flying and English language lessons before a first cohort began specific F-16 training in Denmark in December.
Grant Shapps, the UK Defence Secretary, said in a press release at the time that while Ukraine had been “susceptible” to Russian air attacks during the early stages of the conflict, “its Armed Forces are actually in a position to intercept and destroy the overwhelming majority of incoming ordnance” thanks to international supporters providing air help for its air defenses.
“Together, we’re now going additional by guaranteeing Ukraine has a contemporary air drive sooner or later, shaped across the extremely succesful fourth-generation F-16 fighter jet,” he added.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister, Rustem Umerov, said, “Ukraine extremely values the pilot coaching that the UK and different companions are offering,” adding that it provided a “fast and efficient program to equip Ukrainian pilots with the talents they want within the battle towards Russia.”
It will nonetheless be a number of months earlier than they see motion towards Russian forces, a Ukrainian Air Force spokesman stated.
The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are offering as many as 60 F-16s to Ukraine, The Telegraph reported.
According to the US Air Force’s website, the F-16 Fighting Falcon “is a compact, multi-role fighter plane” used in both air-to-air and air-to-surface combat.
The 49-foot-long aircraft can carry two 2,000-pound bombs, two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, two AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles, and two 2,400-pound external fuel tanks. It is also equipped with one M-61A1 20mm multibarrel cannon.
It adds that it can fly more than 500 miles when conducting air-to-surface operations.
But the Atlantic Council think tank expressed doubt in a report in August that the fighter jet would prove to be a game changer in the war, as Russia’s S-400 surface-to-air missile systems would likely pose a serious threat to all Ukrainian jets and force them to fly at lower altitudes, putting them at a disadvantage.
Despite this, it noted that “the trouble spent coaching Ukrainian pilots, floor crews, and logisticians to function and preserve these plane may have long-term worth.”