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The next generation of Ukrainian fighter pilots is introduced to the F-16 fighter jet

Ukrainian pilots train with NATO F-16 fighter jets
Ukrainian pilots train with NATO F-16 fighter jets (Photo: NATO)

Ukrainian pilots have mastered the F-16 fighter jet as they prepare to take to the skies in defense of their homeland.

The Danish Air Force has trained the next generation of Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The Danish instructors at Skrydstrup Air Base train Ukrainian pilots, technicians and ground crew in flying and maintaining the advanced multi-role fighter.

According to NATO, the F-16 will significantly strengthen Ukraine’s ability to continue to defend its airspace and territory against Russia’s war of aggression.

The first jets are expected to enter service later this year.

In images released by NATO, Ukrainian pilots are full of praise for the F-16, noting its responsive controls and agile flight characteristics.

“It’s a really fun airplane to fly,” said a pilot known only by the call sign Moonfish.

“I’m not saying the MiG I flew before is super boring, but the F-16 is definitely more agile. “It moves easily. As soon as you think about something, it changes.”

Look: Would the F-16 fighter jet be a good fit for Ukraine?

The Ukrainian pilot added: “I was proud, not only for myself but also for the rest of the guys and that we are doing it now. “I know how much work has gone into getting this opportunity.

“The biggest boost here is the motivation to go back and keep fighting with new jets.”

Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway are all donating F-16s to Ukraine to help defend its airspace against Russian forces.

Major General Jan Dam, head of the Royal Danish Air Force Air Command, said: “It (the F-16) has been updated several times and actually, as it stands here, it is a very, very modern aircraft.” It is competitive with the best western fighters. And I am sure that the Ukrainian Air Force will benefit from this.”

Watch: The Netherlands and Denmark donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Major General Dam added: “We are in this together and we have a lot of sympathy for the Ukrainian people and we want to do what we can to help.”

Despite the F-16 being a very capable aircraft, it is being replaced by a number of Western air forces.

The plane has been in the air for more than 50 years since it made its first flight in 1974.

In April, a senior Ukrainian military official labeled the F-16 as “no longer relevant” despite a lengthy training program in operating the aircraft being underway.

The senior Ukrainian officer reportedly told Politico: “Every weapon has its own right moment. F-16s were needed in 2023. They will not be suitable for 2024.”

He explained that the aircraft would have been better suited to fighting in Ukraine last year, but the opportunity may now have passed.

Russia had already devised ways to counter the plane, limiting its usefulness on the front lines, he warned.

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