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First F-16 may fly in Ukrainian skies by end of March 2024 - Foreign Minister

First F-16 may fly in Ukrainian skies by end of March 2024 - Foreign Minister Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba (RBC-Ukraine, Vitaliy Nosach)

The first F-16 fighters are scheduled to fly in Ukrainian skies by the end of March 2024, as Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba said in an interview with Radio Svoboda.

He said that the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine involves very complex technical issues.

Kuleba added that the training should start "around August, maybe at the beginning of September". In parallel, the preparation of the legal decisions, and the aircraft themselves, will proceed.

"I think that if by the end of the first quarter of next year, the first F-16s fly in Ukrainian air, controlled by Ukrainian pilots, then it will be according to the schedule," he said.

The minister noted that it is necessary to train engineers, technicians, and the relevant infrastructure. According to him, there are many nuances, so the schedule may shift.

"But now the Minister of Defense is also working very actively here (at the NATO summit in Vilnius). We are doing everything together to speed up this process as much as possible," he added.

F-16 for Ukraine

The Western allies announced the formation of an aircraft coalition to transfer modern fighter jets to Ukraine, including the F-16. The coalition is led by the Netherlands and Denmark, as they announced their intention to train Ukrainian pilots. These countries have special aviation simulators. Ukrainian pilots will also be trained by other states, in particular, Britain and France.

Earlier, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed hope that training on the F-16 will begin in August, and Ukraine will be able to receive the planes in six to seven months. He later stated that there is no timetable for training missions yet, and some allies are delaying it.

A coalition for the training of Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 was officially formed yesterday, it includes 11 countries.