KYIV (Reuters) - Training had begun for Ukrainians to operate U.S. F16 fighter jets but it would take at least six months and possibly longer, Defence Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said on Saturday, two days after a U.S. official said F-16s would be transferred to Ukraine once its pilots were trained.
Reznikov said in a TV interview that six months of training was considered the minimum for pilots, but it was not yet known how long it would take to train engineers and mechanics. Ukraine wants the sophisticated U.S.-made warplanes so it can counter the air superiority of Russia, whose forces invaded the country in February 2022.
"Therefore, to build reasonable expectations, set a minimum of six months in your mind, but do not be disappointed if it is longer," he told Kanal 24 anchor Andriana Kucher, who shared the interview on her YouTube channel.
A U.S. official said on Thursday that Washington had approved sending F-16s to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands to defend against Russia as soon as pilot training was completed.
Reznikov said he would not give details on where and when the training was taking place.
The training included technical language training, as the usual basic English level was insufficient, he said.
(Reporting by Nick Starkov in Kyiv; Additional reporting and Writing by Elaine Monaghan in Washington; editing by Grant McCool)