The White House has so far ruled out calls to provide the Ukrainian government with F-16 fighter jets, but clearly the idea is still on the table and Biden may be close to pulling the trigger amid intense administration discussions.
“Two Ukrainian pilots are currently in the United States undergoing an assessment to determine how long it could take to train them to fly attack aircraft, including F-16 fighter jets, according to two congressional officials and a senior U.S. official,” a weekend NBC report indicates.
“The Ukrainians’ skills are being evaluated on simulators at a U.S. military base in Tucson, Arizona, the officials said, and they may be joined by more of their fellow pilots soon,” the report continues.
The officials additionally said 10 more Ukrainian pilots are expected to join the program soon, and they may arrive in the US this month.
The officials emphasized that this does not yet constitute a fighter jet training program for Ukrainian pilots, and that actual aircraft will not be flown – only the advanced flight simulators. But clearly if F-16s are approved, this will form the basis of formal training on the jets.
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Raising funds through cash or in-kind gifts from citizens to pay for military equipment is nothing new. But the request of “buy me a fighter jet” made by Ukraine air force for purposes of crowdfunding a jet is unconventional.
If you’re curious to delve deeper into the topic, read more about it here.