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Ukrainian citizens have begun their training in Arizona to operate F-16 aircraft.

Ukrainian citizens have begun their training in Arizona to operate F-16 aircraft.

Pilots from Ukraine have begun training on F-16s in Arizona alongside the Arizona Air National Guard. This brings Kyiv closer to obtaining the American-made fighter jets that it believes are necessary to protect its territory and people from Russian military forces.

Bridget Brink, the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, announced the implementation of training for X, stating that it is a crucial step in strengthening Ukraine’s air defense. She also expressed pride in collaborating with European allies to aid Ukraine against Russia’s aggressive actions.

A representative from the National Guard informed VOA on Thursday that the 162nd Wing of the Arizona Air National Guard in Tucson commenced instruction for a limited group of Ukrainian pilots this week on the basics of flying F-16s. The training is expected to continue for several months.

According to the Pentagon, typical F-16 training programs have a duration of approximately eight months.

In order to fly F-16s, proficiency in the English language is necessary. This is why the training at Morris Air National Guard Base comes after completing English language training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas last month.

At a press conference in Brussels this past month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced that the F-16 fighter jets may potentially be delivered to Ukraine by the spring of next year.

The F-16 aircraft will play a crucial role for Ukraine in the future, according to General David Allvin, the vice chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force. He believes that the Ukrainian air force has the capability to successfully incorporate the new fighters into its armed forces.

The announcement coincided with the United States’ pledge to provide Ukraine with an additional $150 million in military assistance.

The bundle consists of additional GMLRS rockets for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, ammunition for the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System, TOW anti-tank missiles, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles, and 155 mm projectiles.

In recent days, the availability of 155 mm rounds has become a source of concern as both Ukraine and Israel, key allies of the U.S., require them for their respective wars. Ukraine is fighting against Russia’s invasion while Israel is battling Palestinian militant group Hamas, responsible for killing hundreds of Israelis and abducting over 200 in an attack on October 7th.

The city of Washington has announced its ability to assist with the military requirements of both Tel Aviv and Kyiv.