Ukrainians will train on F-16s in Arizona

The U.S. DoD announced its contribution to the international effort to train and equip Ukrainians with F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Miguel Ortiz Avatar
ukraine f-16 training
(U.S. Air National Guard)

On August 24, 2023, the U.S. Department of Defense announced its contribution to the international effort to train and equip Ukrainian Armed Forces with F-16 Fighting Falcon jet fighters. “The training provided by the United States will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that’s already underway in Europe and further deepens our support of the F-16 training coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands,” Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said at a press briefing. “Moving forward, we will remain in close consultation with the Danes, the Dutch and other allies to ensure U.S. training complements the broader coalition training efforts.”

arizona f-16
An F-16 of the 162nd flies over Tucson (U.S. Air National Guard)

English language training for pilots will begin in September at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas while flight training is expected to begin in October at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona. The training will be facilitated by the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard. Following the successful completion of training, the Netherlands and Denmark have received the support of the U.S. to provide their legacy F-16s to Ukraine as both countries transition their air forces to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

f-16 simulator
Simulators are a useful resource in pilot training (U.S. Air Force)

F-16 training for Ukrainians is also being conducted in Europe, including in the Netherlands and Denmark. To ensure the quickest delivery of F-16s to Ukraine, the U.S. is preempting any training capacity restraints in Europe. Ryder noted that Ukraine will ultimately decide how many of its pilots will go through the training. Depending on the proficiency of the students, the flight training may take several months. It takes the U.S. Air Force roughly two years to convert an untrained officer into a fully-fledged F-16 fighter pilot.

ukraine f-16 training ground crews
Ukrainian ground crews will have to learn to support and maintain F-16s (U.S. Air Force)

Helping to accelerate the F-16 training, Ukrainian students will already be trained pilots. “Part of this training will be assessing the individual pilots’ skill level, which will determine help to determine how long that training will last,” Ryder said. “Your basic, new F-16 pilot with not a lot of training on the U.S. side, that training typically lasts about eight months.” Training will range from basic flight training to air combat maneuvering and weapons employment. Ryder highlighted that more experienced pilots may complete the training in as little as five months. In addition to pilots, Ukrainian ground crews will be trained on logistics and maintenance for F-16s.