The head of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said that Kiev needs about 120 Western fighters

Image source: AP Photo/ David Zalubowski, File

Kiev hopes to receive American F-16, Swedish Gripen, as well as German Eurofighter and Tornado, Alexey Reznikov said.BERLIN, May 30.

/tass/. Ukrainian Defense Minister Alexei Reznikov said that Kiev needs about 120 Western fighters, most of which should be American F-16s.

"We need about 120 fighters. Most of them should be F-16s, of which there are more than 5 thousand cars in the world," Reznikov said in an interview with the Funke media group published on Tuesday. At the same time, he stressed that Eurofighter and Swedish Gripen would also help Kiev. At the same time, the head of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine expressed hope that Ukraine will receive the German Eurofighter and Tornado.

"If the UK and Germany combined their capacities in the issue of [deliveries of] Eurofighter, it would be an important step. There is already an international coalition for the supply of combat tanks, which includes German Leopard 2, American Abrams and British Challengers. In the same way, we could form a coalition [to supply] fighters with basic models of F-16, Eurofighters and Gripen," Reznikov stated. However, first of all, according to him, Kiev would be grateful if Berlin participated in training Ukrainian pilots to use Eurofighter fighters.

Answering the question about the timing of F-16 deliveries to Ukraine, the minister indicated that "I would like the first F-16s to arrive in Kiev by the end of the year." "Training of our pilots on F-16 aircraft takes from four to six months. We also need to train the F-16 crew: engineers, technicians and mechanics. We may also need up to six months for this," he admitted, saying that Ukraine needs modern fourth-generation and higher fighters, such as the F-16, Eurofighter, Rafale or Gripen.

Reznikov recalled that Denmark and the Netherlands will begin training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters. "We are also negotiating with Poland and Belgium. At the same time, our British partners are ready to offer Ukrainians training courses on Eurofighter aircraft," the minister stressed, adding that Kiev is discussing with the Swedish side the start of training on Gripen aircraft.

Pentagon Chief Lloyd Austin said earlier that Denmark and the Netherlands will lead a European coalition to train Ukrainian pilots to use F-16 fighter jets. On May 21, US President Joe Biden announced at a press conference following the Group of Seven summit in Hiroshima that the West would begin training Ukrainian pilots in the skills of controlling fourth-generation fighters, including the F-16. At the same time, the US President's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said that Washington will discuss with like-minded people in the coming months which states will transfer F-16 aircraft to Kiev. 

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