UK will train Ukrainian pilots, even though it cannot train its own
LONDON, UK — “Nothing is off the table” were the words of the British Prime Minister Mr. Rushi Sunak regarding the supply of arms to Ukraine. After the Eastern European country overcame the “tank resistance” and turned it into a “tank coalition”, the deployment of Western warplanes to Ukraine today is at least one percent more likely than 40 days ago.
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Although the Netherlands and Poland were the first to talk about sending fighter jets, Britain may be the first to carry out this plan. As happened with the Challenger 2 tanks, while the US and Germany were still thinking.
France is watching from the sidelines what is happening regarding the combat planes. Paris has repeatedly stated that French fighter jets for Ukraine are not a “taboo issue”. Might send Mirage 2000 or Rafale. But Paris wants to ensure its national security first. And not only that – France wants to answer an important question. “You have to be careful with ‘fads’. In December we only talked about ground-to-air defense. In January we’re only talking about tanks. Then, in February I have a feeling we’ll only be talking about fighter jets,” prophesied French Minister of Armed Forces Mr. Sebastien Lecornu.
“Nothing is off the table” comes at a time when London promised Ukraine the training of pilots. 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers were trained in Britain last year. 20,000 are the plans of London and Kyiv for the present.
Of course, the training of Ukrainian pilots should not be associated exclusively with the events of today. In the future, when the war is over, Ukraine will have pilots who flew Western planes. But if it is going to train Ukrainian pilots, what can London send to Kyiv?
There aren’t many options, they’re actually missing. Britain has Tornado fighter-bombers. It is very unlikely that they will end up in Ukraine. These are aircraft for bombing deep into the enemy’s rear. And if we are talking about bombing the Russian positions in eastern Ukraine, the Tornados will have to counteract the Russian air defense. Without fighter jets, this cannot happen.
British Tranche 1 Eurofighter Typhoons are a possible option. Especially at a time when London is displacing them with deliveries of F-35s to Lockheed Martin. But as we have repeatedly written, Britain has problems with supplies. First, they are late, and second, they have no pilots.
Yes, Britain will train Ukrainian pilots at a time when it cannot train its own. Overall, and according to documents cited by SkyNews last August, of 596 British student pilots [or trainees] in the RAF, 347 were waiting for a place. A place to pursue their training or “retraining” course. And this is due to their inability to access the next phase of their training within the time allowed.
There is also the question of training capacity… The British are in a bind, in particular, due to the intermittent lack of Hawk T2 training aircraft. They resumed flights just recently after being grounded due to mechanical problems.
The visit of Ukrainian President Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky to Great Britain is actually his second since the beginning of the war. He first visited the US. And then and now, Mr. Zelensky continues to fight the “red lines” of the West. “I am asking you and the world with small but very important words: fighter jets for Ukraine, wings for freedom,” Zelensky said.
Britain is active in its aid to Ukraine. It is quite possible that London will send planes to Kyiv, or finance the purchase of old Soviet models. Time will tell. The fact is, however, that within the kingdom the subject of “plane – training” is accompanied by problems that must be solved now. Otherwise, there is no guarantee that Ukrainian pilots will get what they dream of.
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