Ukrainian F-16 pilots to be trained by private US firm in Romania

F-16 fighter after aerial refueling. (U.S. Air Force)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

The U.S.-based private military contractor Draken International has started recruiting F-16 instructors to train Ukrainian pilots in Romania. In the recruitment notice, the company writes that the military instructors will work at the Borcea-Fetești military base, according to Ukrainian publication Zerkalo Nedeli.

The company is also hiring other categories of personnel for the pilot training center — mainly technicians, electricians and other aviation specialists. Candidates must have at least five years of experience in F-16 aircraft and will be expected to stay in Romania between three and 19 months.

Initially, the training will consist of testing and selecting Ukrainian personnel, as well as English-language lessons; theoretical and practical training will then be provided later. The aim of the program is for Ukrainian pilots to acquire basic skills in flying and maintaining F-16 aircraft.

Draken International has a contract with the U.S. government to play the role of a hypothetical adversary in Air Force and Navy exercises. Established in 2012, Draken International operates a fleet of some 150, partly obsolete fighter jets, but also has an estimated 24 F-16s. Most of its pilots are retired or semi-retired U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

Earlier, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuri Ignat said that the first group of Ukrainian pilots is ready to learn to fly F-16 fighter jets. The Dutch government also announced that the Netherlands, together with Denmark, with the support of the United States, is working to set up a training center for these Ukrainian pilots.

The Netherlands has thus officially confirmed that the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets are involved. The plan proposed by the Netherlands in its “F-16 for Ukraine” program features a training center specifically for training pilots. Countries such as Denmark or the Netherlands could be the first to deliver F-16s to Ukraine, as they own around 40 F-16s that will be replaced by F-35s.

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