The West sees Romania as a possible place to train Ukrainian F-16 pilots - Politico
A coalition of Western countries is considering Romania as one of the possible states to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighters. The exercise could be conducted by Lockheed Martin, which is engaged in the production of F-16s.
The Politico daily wrote about it citing the words of three people familiar with the discussion of this issue. According to journalists, this indicates that NATO countries are approaching the launch of a program under which Ukraine may receive fighter jets.
"Romania is one of the places the coalition is considering for exercises," a Western official said on condition of anonymity.
Current and former Pentagon officials said the group is working on a contract to conduct training flights at the Romanian training ground. They added that it is likely that Lockheed Martin, which makes the F-16s, will handle the training.
According to the material, the Netherlands and Denmark are leading international efforts to train Ukrainian pilots on modern fighters, but the partners have not yet decided which countries will provide the planes needed for training.
However, it is said that European officials have neither confirmed nor denied that the proposal to train Ukrainian pilots in Romania is under discussion. The representative of the Ministry of Defense of the Netherlands said only that the partners were working on creation of a training center for F-16 in Eastern Europe
The representative of Lockheed pointed out that the firm is ready to train Ukrainian pilots to fly and maintain F-16s, as soon as Western countries agree to send them.
"Delivery of the F16 is out of the question right now. We are working very hard to start training F-16 pilots as soon as possible," a spokesman said.
Acting Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen said such exercises could already begin this summer.
"Over the past few weeks I have had several opportunities to discuss with my colleagues possible training models for Ukrainian pilots and support personnel for F-16 aircraft. I am very pleased to see that the coalition dedicated to pilot and personnel training is steadily expanding. This will be an important strategic step in the long term," he said.
As OBOZREVATEL reported, State Department spokesman Stan Brown said that any possible transfer of F-16 fighters to Ukraine - either from the United States or from other partners - will take months. This is the time it will take to settle the mechanisms of their delivery to our country.