Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov assures that the Armed Forces will use F-16s in the spring of 2024. He has stated this in an interview with Ukrinform.
"I think next year [we will have F-16s], in the spring. I mean, they are already in use. Because today we have permission to train, there are countries that have agreed to train, and there are even countries that have already agreed to give us F-16s after the training and infrastructure are completed. But, as for amateurs, I will give you a metaphor, no, an allegory, rather. There is a trilogy by Tolkien called The Lord of the Rings. And at one time there was a question why the hobbits could not ride on eagles and easily deliver the ring to the fiery mountain? They really couldn't. Because there had to be: a) political will to provide eagles; b) approval from the "governments of the eagle states"; c) training of eagle keepers, preparation of an airport for them, specialists who would serve them, feed them, take care of their nests; d) and all this time, arguments were heard from those states that have eagles: "Why do you need eagles if you are already fighting off Sauron well," Reznikov said.
According to Reznikov, the partners' refusal to provide F-16s was never a political issue. He explains that the West was afraid of escalation and was also trying not to drag NATO into a war with Russia. The minister said that he had written "more than one letter" of commitment that Ukraine would not use NATO weapons on Russian territory.
Earlier, Reznikov said that the Ukrainian army will start using F-16 fighter jets next spring. First, the pilots have to complete their training.
It is currently unknown when the F-16 pilot training center in Romania will start operating.