Amid escalating war between Ukraine and Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the UK on May 15, intending to establish an “international coalition of fighter jets.”

During his visit, a commitment was reached from the UK to train Ukrainian pilots this summer, marking a significant step in military support for the embattled country.

The UK committed to training Ukrainian pilots.

The British government, headed by Rishi Sunak, announced it would start training Ukrainian pilots and work with other countries to supply fighter jets, particularly F-16s.

This is not the first time the UK has promised to train Ukrainian pilots, having made a similar announcement in February this year. The British initiative is complemented by a commitment by French President Emmanuel Macron to provide training for Ukrainian fighter pilots.

UK and Ukraine seek an international coalition of fighter jets.

Fighter jet options

The British statement highlights that Ukrainian pilots will receive training to fly 4th generation fighters and mentions an interest in F-16 aircraft. Although other options, such as the British Eurofighter Typhoon Tranche 1 or the French Mirage-2000, are being considered, it appears that the F-16 is the preferred long-term option to complement the Ukrainian tactical fighter fleet.

pilot training

Ukrainian pilot training is expected to start from scratch, focusing on young cadets who will receive a comprehensive training program to prepare to fly fourth-generation Western aircraft such as the F-16.

Meanwhile, experienced pilots of Soviet aircraft such as the MiG-29 and Su-27 are expected to continue the fight until they are ready to transition to state-of-the-art aircraft and a customized curriculum.

International support

In addition to the United Kingdom and France, other NATO countries, such as Denmark and Finland, are willing to provide Ukraine with fighter jets. The transfer of combat aircraft would resemble the transfer of main battle tanks in terms of collaboration between Western countries and Ukraine.

With Ukrainian pilot training starting in the coming months, it is likely that Ukraine will finally get a much-needed Western fighter to deal with the ongoing conflict.