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Democrats demand Pentagon expands Ukrainian F-16 training

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) on May 29, 2017, in Pasadena, Calif., is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. (Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
July 03, 2024

Democrat lawmakers in the House of Representatives are demanding that the U.S. military provide F-16 pilot training to additional Ukrainians as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues.

According to Politico, House Democrats led by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, demanding that Ukraine’s request to have 10 additional F-16 pilots trained be granted.

In a letter obtained by Politico, House Democrats wrote, “The request comes at a critical juncture in Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia, where the deployment of F-16 aircraft has the potential to significantly influence the outcome of the war.”

The Democrat lawmakers added, “By the end of the year, Ukraine will have more F-16 aircraft than they will have qualified pilots to fly them, this situation threatens to undermine the strategic advantages these aircraft could provide Ukraine.”

READ MORE: $1 billion in Ukraine funding improperly tracked, Pentagon report says

According to The Post Millennial, the demand by House Democrats comes after the Biden administration gave Ukraine its approval to conduct missile strikes across the Russian border. The use of F-16s would mark another major step in the escalation of the Russian-Ukraine war. Politico reported that Biden approved the transfer of F-16 aircraft from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway last year.

According to Politico, Ukrainian officials have said that the country has 30 pilots who would be able to start training to fly F-16s in the United States as soon as possible. However, the Biden administration has notified Ukraine that the F-16 training program in Arizona does not currently have space for more than 12 Ukrainian pilots.

Urging the Pentagon to have the military train additional Ukrainian pilots, Democrats wrote, “This effort not only enhances Ukraine’s ability to utilize the F-16s effectively but also reinforces the broader coalition’s commitment to supporting Ukraine in its fight for sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

A report published in May by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget previously showed that the United States has dedicated $175 billion in aid to Ukraine.