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Kiev military says Ukrainian pilots are already flying F-16s to practice target strikes

The Ukrainian Air Force command spokesman reiterated that the transition to using the F-16 cannot be quick

MOSCOW, March 1. /TASS/. Ukrainian pilots, who are being retrained to fly US F-16 fighter jets, have already started practicing strikes on targets, Ukrainian Air Force command spokesman Yury Ignat has said.

"Pilots are already practicing tactical techniques and strikes. As for ground personnel, engineers and mechanics are also being instructed in how to maintain this aircraft and its weapons. Now we are adapting the infrastructure at certain sites," Ignat said on the TV channel Rada.

He reiterated that the transition to using the F-16 cannot be quick: six months is the shortest possible period, while the minimum training course for the F-16 is two years.

Ukraine has long been asking its partners to supply it with F-16 fighter jets. However, the West replies that it is impossible to provide such aircraft without the proper preliminary training of pilots and personnel on the ground. The Netherlands, Denmark, the United States and several other Western countries are currently actively involved in training Ukrainian pilots. In late February, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that the first batch of F-16s would arrive in Ukraine this spring.

However, Kiev's partners themselves note that the importance of the F-16 should not be overestimated. According to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, these fighters alone will not fundamentally change the situation in the war zone, although they will partially strengthen the capabilities of Ukrainian forces. Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly said that deliveries of more weapons, including F-16s, to Ukraine would not change the situation on the frontline, but merely prolong the current situation. He also noted that these fighter jets, should the Ukrainian armed forces get them, will be knocked out just like Germany’s Leopard tanks.