Ukrainian Pilots Begin Flying F-16 Fighter Jet in Denmark Following Basic Training Completion in UK


In a recent update from the British Ministry of Defense, dated December 26, 2023, it's been reported that Ukrainian pilots are actively participating in an advanced training program in Denmark to operate F-16 fighter jets. This follows their completion of a foundational training program in the UK. This initiative forms a crucial part of a broader coalition effort, spearheaded by NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands, to enhance Ukraine's air force capabilities amid its continuing conflict with Russia.
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Dutch Air Force F-16AM fighter aircraft. (Picture source Wikimedia)


The training program, which began in August 2023, involves 16 Ukrainian pilots who initially received aviation-specific English language instruction in the UK, facilitated by the British Royal Air Force (RAF). This foundational training was crucial to prepare the pilots for more advanced training phases and to ensure effective communication within the international coalition.

After completing the language and basic flight training in the UK, the pilots proceeded to Denmark for the F-16 specific training. This phase is critical as it includes comprehensive lessons on the operational aspects of the F-16 fighter jets, a key component of the military aid package announced by the Netherlands on December 22, 2023. The Netherlands confirmed the delivery of 18 F-16s to Ukraine, a move reflecting the broader international support for Ukraine's defense efforts.

The training program is not just limited to pilots. Alongside them, numerous Ukrainian aircraft technicians are also receiving specialized English language training tailored to engineering, an essential skill for maintaining and supporting the F-16 jets.

This collaborative effort, involving 11 countries and spearheaded by the RAF, is part of the international Air Force Capability Coalition for Ukraine. The program aims to align Ukrainian pilots and technicians with NATO standards and enhance their combat readiness. The RAF's role in this initiative underscores the UK's commitment to supporting Ukraine's military capabilities in its war with Russia.

The model of F-16 fighter aircraft in service with the Netherlands Air Force is the F-16AM/BM Block 15, which is an upgraded version of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, represents a significant enhancement in combat capabilities, particularly due to its comprehensive Mid-Life Update (MLU). This upgrade has transformed the aircraft into a more potent and versatile fighter, suitable for a wide range of combat scenarios.

At the heart of the F-16AM/BM Block 15's enhancements are its advanced avionics. The upgrade includes a modern mission computer, new cockpit displays, and an improved radar system, which together enhance both the aircraft's air-to-air and air-to-ground mission capabilities. The radar upgrade is particularly noteworthy, providing the pilots with better situational awareness and target acquisition capabilities.

The F-16AM, the single-seat version, and the F-16BM, its two-seat counterpart, have also seen an expansion in their weapons capability. The aircraft can now be equipped with a broader array of armaments, including advanced air-to-air missiles for engaging enemy aircraft at various ranges. Additionally, they are capable of carrying air-to-ground missiles and precision-guided munitions, making them formidable in striking ground targets with high accuracy.

The F-16AM/BM Block 15 with its MLU program stands out as a significant leap in the evolution of the F-16 series. Its enhanced combat capabilities, owing to the cutting-edge avionics and expanded weapons systems, ensure that it remains a reliable and powerful asset in modern aerial warfare, meeting the diverse operational needs of air forces around the world.


Defense News January 2024