F-16 pilot calls fighter jets sought by Ukraine ‘easy to fly’

LE BOURGET, France (AP) — F-16 fighter jets fly pilots through the skies at up to 2,000 kilometers per hour (1,243 miles per hour). In sharp turns or sudden climbs, gravity puts such pressure on their bodies that some of them might even pass out.

Even so, it’s an experience Ukraine is seeking for its own pilots after gaining US approval to train and eventually receive the American-made planes to bolster its more than year-long fight against Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had long lobbied Western allies for the planes to gain an advantage in the skies.

But to be a “Top Gun”, you need more than the plane: you need the training to get there.

Speaking at this week’s Paris Air Show, the world’s largest aerospace show, US Air Force Captain David “Spicy” Brown, an F-16 pilot, said training takes about a year to complete. American military pilots.

It is unclear how long it will take Ukrainian pilots to learn to fly the plane.

“This jet is incredibly easy to fly,” said Brown, an instructor pilot with more than 1,000 flight hours who is stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany. “It’s all the other stuff that comes with flying.”

He told The Associated Press that “you don’t have to worry about it getting out of control. The main thing is to be able to operate the sensors, to be able to operate your radar” and the other systems of the jet.

President Joe Biden announced in May at the Group of 7 major economies summit that the United States would allow American-made planes to be shipped to Ukraine and help provide training, although no official plan or date has been announced. has been publicly discussed.

Today, Ukraine relies on older aircraft such as the Russian-made MiG29 and Sukhoi aircraft. Although similar in many ways, the F-16s have newer technology and targeting capabilities.

The appeal of the F-16s also lies in their versatility and durability, said George Barros, Russia analyst at the Institute for the Study of Warfare.

They are designed to fit different weapon systems – such as heat-seeking missiles – and any necessary spares will be easier to obtain as Western allies use the same jets.

“In the long run, it’s just more sustainable,” he said.

The debate over whether to send jet planes to Ukraine has been raging since the early days of the war. Originally, the United States feared that this would push Russia into attacking Western allies.

And although the United States has changed its mind, the F-16s will not be available in time to help Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Russia has been able to fly planes like attack helicopters and bombers into the south where Ukraine is trying to regain ground, Barros said.

“The Ukrainians don’t control the airspace where they attack,” Barros said. “These are extremely difficult conditions in which to conduct offensive operations.”

And that reduces the effectiveness of other weapon systems the West has provided, such as tanks, he said.

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