After British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak proposed that the United Kingdom send advanced fighter jets to Ukraine, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had repeatedly requested during the Russian invasion, it was revealed over the weekend that two Ukrainian fighter pilots are in the United States.
Ukraine has pilots in the United States: any guesses as to why?
As negotiations continue, two Ukrainian pilots reportedly have their proficiency with modern fighter jets assessed at the Air National Guard installation in Tucson, Arizona.
Russia will retaliate against the presence of the Ukrainian military in the United States in one way or another, but that doesn’t imply the United States is gearing up to send F-16s right now.
Other anonymous sources told Politico that Ukrainian pilots at the base aren’t actually flying US jets but are instead training on simulators. The goal, they said, is to assess their skills and determine what training is needed to help Ukrainian pilots put their skills to better use “in their own aircraft.”
According to a US official who was quoted in the report, the training is intended to help the US figure out how to effectively assist the Ukrainian armed forces in strengthening their air force.
“The program involves observing how Ukrainian pilots carry out their mission planning and execution in flight simulators to determine how we can better advise the Ukrainian Air Force,” the official explained, according to a Politico report.
Will the UK send the planes Kyiv needs?
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that the UK is not preparing to send Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoon jets to Ukraine, rejecting Zelensky’s requests during a recent visit to London. Wallace claimed that the advanced fighters would be too complex for Ukrainian fighters to use.
As an alternative, Wallace said the British government was willing to provide Typhoon air cover to Eastern European countries if they wanted to send Mig-29s and other Soviet-era aircraft to Ukraine instead.
Wallace commented during an interview with Britain’s Sky News on the anniversary of the Russian invasion.
A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said the government’s stance backs the prime minister’s earlier promises to support countries that want to offer their own reactors. The pledge could catalyze European countries to accept Poland’s offer to supply more than two dozen MIG-29s as part of a “broader coalition” with neighboring states.