Denmark could train Ukrainian F-16 pilots this summer

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AFP/Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Denmark could train Ukrainian F-16 pilots this summer
Dutch F-16 fighter jets fly above Volkel Air Base in Volkel, Netherlands. Ukrainian F-16 pilots could be trained in the Netherlands and Denmark. Photo: Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters/Ritzau Scanpix

Western allies -- including Denmark -- could start training Ukrainian pilots to fly US-made F-16 jets as soon as this summer as Kyiv battles Russia's invasion.


A coalition of Kyiv's European backers led by the Netherlands and Denmark has said it will help teach Ukrainian flyers, after the United States gave its
green light in May.

But they have not previously specified when they might begin training the Ukrainians to fly the jets.

Russia has said that the West would be "playing with fire" by supplying Ukraine with the jets.

Defence ministers in both Denmark and the Netherlands have however suggested a decision will be announced soon.

Danish Acting Defence Minister Troels Lund Poulsen is scheduled on Thursday to present Denmark's position at the US-led Ukraine Defense Contact Group.


A timescale is expected to be presented for the Ukrainian pilots which could see them begin training in August, possibly in Denmark, according to Danish news wire Ritzau.

"It is no secret that we are open to providing Danish ground for such a training activity," Poulsen said.

Denmark and Netherlands are likely to lead the effort in partnership, according to Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren.

"We have agreed to take the lead in the project together with Denmark, which means that we prepare together with Denmark," Ollongren told AFP after meeting her British counterpart in Amsterdam.

The coalition of Kyiv's western supporters would discuss the issue at a meeting this week, she said.

"Of course we would like to start as soon as possible but we have to prepare it well so it will take some time... the ambition is as soon as
possible, I hope to succeed this summer," she added.

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said his country would start "elementary flight training" and language skills for Ukrainian pilots "pretty

But this would not involve training them on F-16s as Britain does not operate the planes, Wallace added.

US President Joe Biden in May cleared Ukraine's access to long-sought F-16s, the most sophisticated military support materiel yet supplied by the
West to Kyiv.

Biden said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had given him a "flat assurance" the jets would not be used to attack Russian territory.


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