Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov says F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots will begin in August.
Reznikov, speaking in an exclusive interview with CNN over the weekend, added that the training will take “a minimum of 6 months” and that Ukraine still needs to add some infrastructure for the fighter jets.
The defense minister said he thought, optimistically, pilots could be operating F-16s in the skies of Ukraine by spring of next year.
Speaking to CNN’s Alex Marquardt in the Ukrainian capital, Reznikov, a lawyer turned defense official, did concede that if Ukraine had these fighter jets now they would “certainly” have helped Ukraine make more progress in the ongoing counteroffensive.
“If you have more sophisticated, more modern weaponry will be more efficient,” he said.
The training — which Reznikov said will likely be held in Denmark and the Netherlands, as well as possibly in the United Kingdom or Poland — will also include intensive sessions for technicians. The defense minister said the maintenance of the jets is a "serious task”.
He said the trainings may be split between countries, but the final plans were still being finalized.
The minister joked that the group of 11 nations that have committed to helping Ukraine train pilots on the F16s are called “Ocean’s 11,” after the popular film.