Andreas Rinke & John Irish
HIROSHIMA (Japan) (Reuters) – Potential allied programmes for Ukrainian fighter pilots to train on F-16 jets are a warning to Russia that it should not expect to win its invasion of Ukraine, even in a long-term conflict, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated on Sunday.
Although the G7 leaders were not informed of any commitments from Kyiv regarding delivery, President Joe Biden told them that Washington is committed to joint training programmes with allies for Ukrainian F-16 pilots.
The G7 is facing a delicate situation in regards to Ukraine's acquisition and use of advanced fighter jets. They have gradually increased their support for Kyiv during the 15-month war, but are wary of pushing Moscow too far.
TASS reported that Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko stated on Saturday, Western countries would be taking "colossal risk" if they provided Ukraine with F-16s.
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Scholz said to reporters, before leaving the G7 Summit in Hiroshima, Japan: "Training the pilots will take a long time." The U.S. still hasn't decided on the final outcome. The project is a message to Russia: Russia can't win if they bet on a long-term war.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunder said that his country will work with the Netherlands and Belgium "to get Ukraine combat air capability they need."
U.S. officials said that training on the U.S. made jets would take place in Europe, and it would take time. They estimated at least 18 months for both training and delivery.
The French official who briefed reporters on the G7 process was cautious in his approach, saying that the offer made to France was only for basic training.
Officials said that discussions with Kyiv are ongoing, and that no Ukrainian pilots are currently being trained in France.
France has no F-16s. It only has Rafale jets and older Mirage 2000 jets.
An official stated that a new pilot would take up to four years to learn how to fly a NATO warplane, whereas a veteran pilot who is familiar with Ukrainian jets will need between four and nine months.
"It is not Ukraine's immediate priority." "We are in a stage of counteroffensive and this training will not be ready for the next few weeks but on a long-term basis," said the official.
Officials said that the F-16s were grabbing the headlines just as German-made Leopard tanks did before. They also insisted the request for the F-16s is only for training.
It's a logo that shows the initiative. He said that the initiative was to train pilots, without using a plane.