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Ukrainian pilots starting training on Western 4th-gen fighters, UK confirms

Illustration: US Air Force file photo of an F-16 Fighting Falcon

Ukrainian pilots will soon be starting training for the operation of NATO-standard fourth-generation fighter jets, the United Kingdom government confirmed ahead of the visit of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to London on Monday.

In February, the UK Prime Minister announced plans to develop a new training program for Ukrainian pilots to support their efforts to build a new Ukrainian air force with NATO-standard, F16 jets.

This summer, the UK plans to host an elementary flying phase for cohorts of Ukrainian pilots to learn basic training.

This will adapt the program used by UK pilots to provide Ukrainians with piloting skills they can apply a different kind of aircraft. This training goes hand in hand with UK efforts to work with other countries on providing F16 jets – Ukraine’s fighter jets of choice.

“This is a crucial moment in Ukraine’s resistance to a terrible war of aggression they did not choose or provoke. They need the sustained support of the international community to defend against the barrage of unrelenting and indiscriminate attacks that have been their daily reality for over a year,” UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.

“We must not let them down. The frontlines of Putin’s war of aggression may be in Ukraine but the fault lines stretch all over the world. It is in all our interest to ensure Ukraine succeeds and Putin’s barbarism is not rewarded.

“That is why the UK is sustaining our support to Ukraine – from tanks to training, ammunition to armored vehicles. And this message of solidarity will ring loud in all my meetings with fellow world leaders in the days ahead.”

Next month, the UK will host a Ukraine Recovery Conference to galvanize international investment to support Ukraine’s reconstruction, promoting those emerging sectors where the country was thriving before Putin’s full-scale invasion such as clean energy and tech.

A day before his London visit, Zelensky visited Germany, which pledged its largest ever military aid package for Ukraine valued at over 2.7 billion euros.

It is also worth noting that the UK confirmed last week it provided Storm Shadow precision missiles to Ukraine. These are the first long-range cruise missiles in Ukraine’s arsenal and have been already employed by Ukraine in its defense against the Russian invasion, according to multiple reports.