Kyiv, Aug 17 (EFE).- Ukraine has said it does not expect to receive the long-awaited US-made F16 war jets this year even as its fighter pilots are ready to receive training in Europe.
Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat said F-16 jets could not land in Ukraine in the coming autumn or winter.
“It is already obvious we would not be able to defend Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets during this autumn and winter,” Ihnat told a telethon broadcast by Ukrainian news channels, as the official Ukrinform news agency reports.
“We had big hopes for this plane, that it will become part of air defense, able to protect us from Russian missiles and drone terrorism,” the spokesperson said.
He noted that Ukraine desperately needed US-made fighters either at the end of this year or early next year. “We have no other choice but to wait.”
He said the fighters should have become part of Ukrainian air defense by now as F-16s were supposed to help protect Ukraine from Russian missile and drone attacks.
“However, the issue has moved from place. We understand that our pilots will be trained in the near future. But at the same time, our air defense needs to be strengthened.”
The air force spokesperson pointed out that the Ukrainian pilots are ready to receive training in the handling of the fighter in Europe, hoping that there would be no “further delays.”
Last month, Ihnat said the first group of Ukrainian pilots had left to receive the training.
But he did not specify the number of trainee pilots and where they would receive the training.
A month earlier, Poland and the Netherlands said they were willing to have the training sessions in their territories.
At the recent G7 Summit in Japan, US President Joe Biden informed American allies of the change in his stance regarding F-16s after ignoring Ukrainian appeals for the warplanes for more than a year.
Biden cleared the way for other countries to provide US-made aircraft to Ukraine and offered to participate in training Ukrainian pilots.
However, no country has specified the timing for the supply of warplanes so far.
Ukraine has pinned hopes on F-16s as a critical weapon in the long-term defense against Russia occupying its territories.
Ukraine says the F-16 will give it a significant military edge in its counteroffensive against Russia. EFE