Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said Warsaw was “ready” to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16s after President Biden signed off on the delivery of the American-made aircraft.
The comments came after the EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s had already begun in several countries, including Poland. But Blaszczak said that wasn’t true.
“We’re ready. The Polish side is ready to train pilots on F-16 aircraft. Such training has not yet begun,” Blaszczak said, according to AFP.
Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren made similar comments, saying a coalition of countries is ready to train Ukrainian pilots but that it hasn’t started in Poland or anywhere else.
“It is a co-effort with Denmark, Belgium, UK, and other allies, so a coordinated effort. But we will speed up now that we know that we have the green light,” Ollongren said.
While Biden has given the green light for F-16 deliveries, there is still a long way to go before the aircraft make it to the battlefield. Estimates for how long the training will take vary significantly from as little as four months up to two years.
The provision of Western-made fighter jets for Ukraine marks a significant escalation of NATO support for Kyiv and its involvement in the war. Russia has said the move brings “colossal risks,” a warning brushed off by President Biden.