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Pentagon says Ukrainian pilots already training on F-16 fighters in USA

Ukraine is also being provided with spare parts for F-16s.

Pentagon says Ukrainian pilots already training on F-16 fighters in USA
Photo: EPA/UPG

Training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters has already begun in the United States. In addition, the US Department of Defense is addressing the issue of providing Ukraine with spare parts for fighter jets, the Pentagon said on its website.

"The Defense Department is already participating in providing training to help ready Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 aircraft. The US also expects to be ready to make sure spare parts are available for those aircraft," it said.

To ensure the Ukrainians are successful with those F-16s, Ukrainian pilots have been training in the US and Europe on both flight operations and maintenance.

According to Bill LaPlante, the US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Logistics, without spare parts, the F-16s that the Ukrainians will fly could be decommissioned in a few months. Therefore, the US plans to create a 90-day supply of spare parts for the aircraft.

There will need to be spare parts to ensure they can be sustained and keep flying. The US is prepared to do that as well, said William A. LaPlante, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, during a discussion Tuesday with Washington, D.C. news organization Politico.

LaPlante said that with whatever is sent to the Ukrainians — and the US has committed $44.2 billion in hardware and ammunition since February 2022 — it's important also that spare parts be made available to maintain that gear.

"Whatever we all deliver to the Ukrainians, provide 90 days of spares, please, please, that's the rule of thumb — 90 days of spares," he said.

Without spares, he said the F-16s the Ukrainians fly could be grounded in just a few months.

"We're not going to let that happen," he said. "And just because other countries provide their airplanes, we have to make sure if they don't provide the spares that we find the spares and provide them."

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