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Blinken on F-16s transfer: It will take months for Ukraine to start using them

Blinken on F-16s transfer: It will take months for Ukraine to start using them U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (Photo: Getty Images)

CNN reports that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken considers Ukraine will need months to get F-16 aircraft operational. First, pilots and technical personnel need to be trained.

"But it’s not just the equipment itself. It’s the training. It’s the maintenance. It’s the ability to use it in combined arms operations. All of that takes time. If a decision were made to actually move forward on the F-16s tomorrow, it would be months and months before they were actually operational," Blinken explained.

The Secretary of State clarified that the U.S. is currently working to transfer aircraft to Ukraine, but that alone is not sufficient.

"So this is what we’re working on now, because, as I said, it’s not enough to give them F-16s; they’ve got to be trained. The training program is moving forward with a number of countries. All of that is happening. But I’m not a military expert. I think you’ve heard Chairman Milley, Lloyd Austin, the Secretary of Defense, speak to this. We believe that what they have and what they’ve been trained on is what they need to be effective, including dealing with the Russian mines," he said.

Blinken also assured that Ukraine will receive American fighter jets.

"I believe that they (Ukrainian Armed Forces - Ed.) will (receive - Ed.), and the important focus is on making sure that when they do, they are properly trained, they’re able to maintain the planes and use them in a smart way," he concluded.

F-16s for Ukraine

At the NATO summit in Vilnius, allies officially announced the creation of an aviation coalition. The Netherlands, Denmark, and Romania have officially confirmed that they will train Ukrainian pilots.

Ukraine is eagerly awaiting when the first group of pilots will start their training, likely to begin in Denmark.

The White House also stated that Ukraine may receive F-16s this year. However, the U.S. considers this will not fundamentally change the situation on the battlefield.

Moreover, days ago, the U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan announced that the United States will begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets in a few weeks.