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Ukrainian pilot Moonfish about F-16 training

Ukrainian pilot Moonfish about F-16 training Mastering the F-16 is not easy (Getty Images)
Author: Maria Kholina

Some Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and technicians have been given a unique opportunity to undergo training on American F-16 aircraft. A pilot from the Ukrainian Air Force with the call sign Moonfish shared his experience in mastering the multi-role fighter.

Advantages of the F-16

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine light multi-role fighter developed by General Dynamics for the U.S. Air Force. Initially designed as a daylight fighter to gain air superiority, it has evolved into an all-weather multi-role aircraft.

According to the Ukrainian pilot, the F-16 is like the "Swiss Army knife" of military aircraft. It is ergonomic, more advanced than Soviet planes in terms of avionics (electronic systems), and easy to handle and interface with.

Moonfish explained that the software on the F-16 is constantly updated, unlike the MiG-29 and Su-27 Soviet aircraft, whose software has remained unchanged since the late 1980s when these planes were developed.

"That period, drones existed only in science fiction books. I mean that, at the time, no one considered drones to be a serious threat that could be destroyed by fighter aircraft," added the pilot, emphasizing that the F-16 is a very good weapon that can perform any mission.

According to the military pilot, the F-16 can provide air cover for ground forces, attack enemy ground targets (including material and technical objects), destroy enemy aircraft, intercept missiles, and more.

Training duration

Full training for an F-16 pilot can take years. However, Ukrainian military pilots are currently undergoing an accelerated training course, which takes about six months for them to master the machine.

"We would have had a lot of time to study the jet completely in peacetime, but we do not have the time," he said, adding there’s enough to master the basic capabilities that Ukraine needs.

Training format

Training on the F-16 is different from Soviet planes in both theory and practice.

Moonfish, who was previously the commander of a squadron of MiG-29 fighters of Soviet design, shared that he has already transitioned from the simulator to the cockpit of a real fighter. However, he acknowledged that it takes some getting used to, as the pilot's "cockpit is quite cramped."

"The F-16 is very maneuverable. It encourages you to pilot in an aggressive style," he added.

According to the pilot, if the F-16 were already transferred to Ukraine, one of the main tasks would be to repel waves of Russian drones and missile attacks.

Required skills

During the selection of pilots for training on the long-awaited F-16s, the command paid attention to several key criteria:

1. Pilot's age
2. Experience
3. English language proficiency

Moonfish specified that the requirements for English proficiency are very high.

The Ukrainian military added that he continues training on the F-16 for the sake of his comrades, both those who have fallen in battles with the enemy and those still fighting for our freedom.

"Even assuming the war ends tomorrow, we all understand it will be just a waiting period for the next round. We must build proper air power with Western jets and effectively trained staff. This will be the biggest deterrent – so that 24 February [the full-scale invasion by Russia last year] doesn’t happen again," he concluded.