Although President Joe Biden has promised to review the program, the official request is “still under review,” said Lt. Col. Garron Garn, a Pentagon spokesman, who responded to other questions from the State Department. A State Department spokesman declined to comment.
There is no indication yet that the US will not give the green light. But the Europeans’ requests have been going on for weeks: Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder told reporters last month that Denmark had requested permission to conduct F-16 training. The Department of Defense often oversees such requests, providing expertise on matters related to technical security.
A spokesman for the Dutch Ministry of Defense would not comment on the request to the Pentagon but said “everything we do in terms of F-16 training we do it in cooperation with the Americans and their partners.”
It is not uncommon for US interagency approval of technology transfers, especially advanced ones like fighter jets, to take time.
With any deployment or training package, the Pentagon must “make sure we’re ready to go with the technical documentation that’s being translated and the technical package and the stability plan,” in the major areas before the transfer, Pentagon acquisition. director William LaPlante told POLITICO in an interview.
Signing up for a training package includes all of that, along with a training plan for maintenance and floor staff.
When asked about the F-16 training package, LaPlante said that for any challenge, “we have to make sure we have the experts.” [available] because we need to have experts to support this system…
“We are making sure that everything is ready,” he added. “Like every other system seen, the F-16 will be in that category no matter what the final decision is.”
But Ukrainian officials say they urgently need the F-16s as their forces struggle to penetrate deep Russian defense lines.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this month, speaking before a NATO summit, criticized the West for what he saw as delays in training Ukrainian pilots to fly the aircraft.
“I have the same questions as you do our honorable friends,” Zelenskyy said in response to a question about when the jets will be delivered.
“We have agreed, we have pressured, and we have the cooperation of countries that are ready to start training Ukrainian pilots. [But] there is no plan for training missions, and they are slowing down. I don’t know why they are doing this,” he said.
These agents hope to start training in Romania, which is planned to be carried out in cooperation with the F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin, in October, said the official of the Department of Defense, who was given the privilege of anonymity to discuss the complex plans. They hope to have six to nine Ukrainian pilots in the first class, which will include Romanian, Bulgarian and Slovak pilots, the official said. While the countries pledging to support the project did not comment, Norway’s defense chief said Oslo is building two F-16s for the program.
The Romanian and Dutch governments have been involved in last-minute talks leading up to this week’s NATO summit in Lithuania to outline the details of an international training plan, and to ensure that Ukrainian pilots are included, according to one person familiar with the talks. . These discussions paved the way for the announcement of the F-16 contract at the conference.
But US officials are not exchanging phone calls quickly. The head of the Pentagon, the Director of the Joint Staff of operations Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, told reporters on Thursday that the situation on the front in Ukraine right now is “not good” for the use of F-16s.
“The Russians still have air defense capabilities. They have air power. And the number of F-16s that will be delivered may not be appropriate for the current situation,” Sims said. “As the future evolves, this will reflect how it is used.”