Multiple sources are reporting that two Ukrainian Air Force pilots are in the U.S. flying F-16 simulators as part of an “assessment” of their skills. The outlets, all quoting unnamed sources, say the two Ukrainians have been at an Air National Guard unit in Tucson, Arizona for a week and will be there for at least another week. The 162nd Fighter Wing operates 70 F-16s but the pilots will not be going flying. All the assessment is happening on the sims to evaluate their “flying and mission planning capabilities” according to Politico.
The U.S. has supplied weapons and ad hoc control systems to adapt them to the Soviet-era fighters Ukraine now flies and part of the Tucson effort is to evaluate how that’s working. “The program involves watching how Ukrainian pilots conduct their mission planning and execution in flight simulators in order to determine how we can better advise the Ukrainian Air Force,” a U.S. official who was granted anonymity told Politico. Ukraine has repeatedly asked for western fighters in its constant lobbying of Western countries for military aid in its battle against Russia. The F-16 is the platform of choice but the U.S. has so far denied the request. U.S. officials insist they won’t be sending any F-16s to Ukraine anytime soon.
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