Lloyd Austin hopes F-16 fight jet training for Ukrainian pilots will begin in coming weeks

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Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday he hopes that training for Ukrainian pilots on American-made F-16 fighter jets will begin in the coming weeks, bolstering Ukraine in the long run but not necessarily as part of an anticipated spring counteroffensive against Russia.

Austin spoke as defense leaders from around the world assembled for a virtual meeting to discuss the ongoing military support for. They were expected talk about which countries will provide F-16s, and how and where the pilot training will be done.

The officials will also get an update on the war effort from Ukrainian leaders, including preparation for that anticipated counteroffensive and how the allies, who have faced their own stockpile pressures, can continue to support Kyiv’s fight against“We’re going to have to dig deeper, and we’re going to have to continue to look for creative ways to boost our industrial capability,” Austin said before the military leaders began their closed session. “The stakes are high.

European countries have said they are talking about which countries may have some of the F-16s available. The United States had long balked at providing the advanced aircraft to, and only last weekend did President Joe Biden agree to allow other nations to send their own U.S.-made jets to Kyiv. “We hope this training will begin in the coming weeks,” Austin said. “This will further strengthen and improve the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force in the long term. And it will complement our short-term and medium-term security agreements. This new joint effort sends a powerful message about our unity and our long-term commitment to

 

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