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Ukraine's Air Force admits timing unclear for F-16 jets arrival

Ukraine's Air Force admits timing unclear for F-16 jets arrival Yurii Ihnat, spokesperson for the Ukrainian Air Force (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

At present, it is unknown when Kyiv will receive the F-16 aircraft. But the "process is underway," Ukraine is transitioning to fighter jets on an emergency basis, states Air Force spokesman Yurii Ihnat in an interview with the Ukrinform.

"No one knows exactly when Ukraine will have F-16s. We expect it as soon as possible," he states.

He also adds that Ukraine, which is expected to receive not the latest modifications of the F-16, "will not receive 40, 70, or 120 aircraft at once."

"The process is underway, pilots are already flying, performing flights in the sky. Flights with instructors are still ongoing. Ukrainian pilots must fully master the technology, and operate independently, without instructors. Training flights are being conducted," the spokesman says.

Ihnat emphasizes that Ukraine is transitioning to F-16s on an emergency basis, as no country in the world has done, but it should not be expected that "planes will come and that's it - victory."

"You understand that at first a small group of pilots will arrive, they will start working in the sky, of course, Russia will react accordingly. But the process of training pilots and increasing their number in Ukraine will be gradual," he says.

F-16s for Ukraine

On February 18, Foreign Policy reported that Ukraine could receive its first F-16 fighter jets in the summer of 2024, possibly in June. However, the Air Force neither confirmed nor denied Ukraine's receipt of F-16s as early as June, refusing to discuss specific timelines. Nevertheless, the military noted that Ukraine is already adapting infrastructure for this type of aircraft.

In October 2023, the Air Force expressed hope that the first F-16 fighter jets would likely arrive in Ukraine in spring 2024. It would take about 150 aircraft to effectively defend the country's airspace.