The F-16 deployment operation in Ukraine is a complex maneuver that goes beyond a mere transfer.
The spokesman for the Air Command of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, Yuriy Ignat, has confirmed to Espresso that the appearance of these fighters in Ukrainian airspace is not expected until the end of the year. This tactical process includes multiple stages and requires sophisticated logistics.
Challenges and estimated time for the arrival of the F-16s to Ukraine
According to Ignat, speculation about the arrival of the F-16s in Ukraine varies. However, he assures that the mission will not be quick, and his appearance in the Ukrainian theater before the end of the year is unlikely. Ukrainian diplomats indicated that the transfer could take place in late winter or spring. This complex process involves the preparation of infrastructure, as well as the training of pilots and aviation engineers to handle and configure the weapons, such as bombs and missiles, that will be integrated into the aircraft.
Ignat highlighted the uniqueness of this challenge for Ukraine, being the first country to transition from Soviet aircraft to Western aerial technology in such a short period. This unique transition explains the diversity of terms and deadlines in policy statements related to the F-16. He added that contrary to certain reports, Ukrainian pilots are not receiving training in Romania, given that the training center is still under construction.
Training center in Romania and ongoing training
The spokesperson clarified a media misunderstanding regarding F-16 flights from the Netherlands to a center in Romania. He stated that this training center, strategically located near Ukraine, is still under construction. Its objective is to train the maximum possible number of pilots, instructors and aviation technicians. The F-16s donated by the Netherlands will be used as training aircraft, including single-seat and two-seat versions, where pilots fly accompanied by an instructor.
Currently, training is carried out in Denmark, where Ukrainian pilots already carry out training flights and flight missions alongside experienced instructors. This is a crucial step in preparing for the operational integration of the F-16 into the Ukrainian Air Force. Ignat concluded by confirming that the first group of Ukrainian pilots and engineers left for F-16 training in late August and that the start of training with the 162nd Wing in the United States occurred in late October.