The training of Ukrainian pilots in the UK will allow the Armed Forces of Ukraine to fly modern NATO-standard combat aircraft, the British government said in a statement. At the same time, London did not promise to provide such fighters to Kyiv.
Great Britain has decided to expand the training of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) for operations in the air and at sea, including the training of fighter pilots and marines. On Wednesday, February 8, when the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyі is visiting London, this was announced on the website of the British government.
It is not specified which aircraft the pilots will be trained on. The government's statement only said that the training would allow the armed forces to operate modern fighter jets of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) standard in the future. As noted by the British TV channel Sky News, Great Britain has F-35 and Typhoon fighters, and other bloc countries widely operate American F-16s.
Over the past six months, 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers have trained in Great Britain. In particular, Ukrainian tankers arrived there last week to learn how to operate Challenger 2 tanks, which the British government promised to provide to Ukraine. This year, London plans to upgrade the qualifications of another 20,000 Ukrainian fighters.
In addition to expanding the military training program, Great Britain also announced plans to supply Ukraine with longer-range weapons. "This will undermine Russia's ability to continuously attack civilian and critical infrastructure in Ukraine and help reduce pressure on the Ukrainian frontline," British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said.
Kyiv expects that the allies will decide on the transfer of fighter jets to it at the next meetings of the Contact Group on Defense of Ukraine. The next meeting in the Rammstein format is scheduled for February 14.
On January 31, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov predicted that Kyiv would be able to get American F-16s, Swedish Gripens, "or something from France." Currently, only the Netherlands and France have not ruled out such a step. Berlin categorically refuses to hand over fighter jets to Kyiv, Washington does too, but, according to the media, it may consider allowing allies to hand over F-16s to Ukraine.
We will remind that the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi, during his trip to London, on Wednesday, January 8, spoke before the British Parliament in the 900-year-old Westminster Hall. In his speech, he called for fighter jets to be provided to Ukraine, saying that fighter jets would become "wings for freedom."
Zelenskyі noted that the King of Great Britain, Charles III, whom he will meet during the visit, is a qualified military pilot. "The king is an Air Force pilot. And in Ukraine today, every Air Force pilot is a king," he said to the applause of the parliament.
Zelenskyi also presented British lawmakers with a pilot's helmet of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), on which was written the phrase "We have freedom. Give us wings to protect it."