Six Months To Combat Readiness - French Instructors Tell Of F-16 Training For Ukrainian Pilots

(MENAFN- UkrinForm) Ten young pilots from Ukraine are currently training at an undisclosed airbase in the south of France on Alpha Jet training aircraft, considered as a bridge between a rotorcraft and an F16 fighter. In total, the French Air and Space Force has undertaken to certify the training of 26 pilots over the two years.

This is the second stage of training campaign. During the initial stage, hosted by the UK, Ukrainian pilots were working on their English language and fighter jet piloting basics. The last, third stage, when pilots will get to fly the F-16s, will most likely be held in Romania, Ukrinform reports, referring to Le Monde.

"Our scheme is universal, and the tactical methods applied will be very similar. Here we are very close to what the F16 does, and also to what you would find on the Mirage 2000," explained one of the instructors.

Read also: Mirage 2000-5 will not compete but complement F-16 in Ukrainian skies -- experts

Ukrainian pilots are 20 to 23 years old, the report notes, adding that all other personal data are classified. The intensive course includes 80 flying hours and 50 hours on the simulator alongside instructors. The timing of the training modules has been shortened in agreement with the Ukrainian side. Therefore, the training in France will last only six months instead of the usually prescribed 18.

"They have to acquire as many skills as possible so that when they get to the conversion squadron, they only need to add what is specific to the F16 or Mirage," the instructor noted.

The advantage is that the trainer aircraft have a dashboard mimicking that of the F-16.

"Here we will give them all the basics: how to apply protocols, how to act in tactical situations, how to react when failures occur," French experts explain.

Pilots learn to fly as part of patrols - that is, in pairs, which is an unusual practice for Ukraine, they learn "tactical" navigation (that is, flights at a very low altitude of 150 meters) and firing a 30 mm gun.

Representatives from the French Air and Space Force also said that part of the Mirages promised by President Macron will be taken from the stocks of the squadron currently based in the Haute-Saône department.

It should be recalled that in early June, the president of France promised to provide Ukraine with an unspecified number of Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets.

According to the French media, the country's Air and Space Force has only 26 such aircraft. Most of them are used by the squadron in the Haute-Saône department. Four are permanently based in Djibouti under a defense agreement, and several participate in NATO's mission in Europe. In particular, four warplanes are now in Lithuania, and two – in Sweden.

Read also: Ukraine tries to weaken Russian air defences before receiving F-16s - ISW

As reported, a number of countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark and Norway, are also to provide to Ukraine 65 F-16 fighters, which will be put in bases outside Ukraine for a certain period of time.

As Ukrinform reported earlier, the United States, as the nation co-chairing the Fighter Jet Coalition for Ukraine, is doing everything to have F-16s transferred to Ukraine as early as this summer.



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