Ukraine say they will not be able to operate F-16 till the end of the year, even if they get them. The communication does not explain, why.

It is anything known on what are exactly they problems? Is it difficult to master, or is the maintenance not ready? I cannot image that runways intended for the passenger airliners are not good enough for this interceptor.

  • $\begingroup$ Also, see this: How long does it take, in average, to train for a different plane? $\endgroup$
    – Therac
    Aug 17, 2023 at 9:50
  • $\begingroup$ If to use F-16 to hunt drones, the airports are where they should be - quite close to the large cities the interceptors would be defending. HESA Shahed 136 is unarmed and flies 185 km/h. Looks like a good target to start from. $\endgroup$
    – h22
    Aug 18, 2023 at 7:45

2 Answers 2


Training of pilots and ground crew are the main cause of the delays according to this article from the Washington Post.

Relevant parts from the article (emphasis mine):

KYIV, Ukraine — A first group of six Ukrainian pilots is not expected to complete training on the U.S.-made F-16 before next summer, senior Ukrainian government and military officials said, following a series of delays in the West’s instruction program for the sophisticated fighter jet. ....

But after the start of training was pushed back several times, Ukraine will now probably have to endure another year without the fighters, which officials in Kyiv hope will provide a significant military edge amid a slow-going counteroffensive and help better protect civilians against Russia’s regular missile and drone strikes.

U.S. officials describe a training effort, rather than hobbled by Western foot-dragging as Ukrainian officials charge, that is only slowly getting off the ground because of the complexities of standing up a new international initiative and the challenges Ukraine must face in identifying aviators with the right skills in the midst of an existential fight.

Despite the United States’ own far larger training capacity, the Biden administration, in a shift from many of the other initiatives surrounding Western support for Ukraine, appears set on letting European allies lead in the F-16 effort for now at least.

Though the pilots are already fluent in English, the officials said, they must first attend four months of English lessons in Britain to learn terminology associated with the jets. That instruction will occur along with ground staff who may be less proficient in English because, according to Ukrainian officials, Denmark requested to train entire crews together rather than just the pilots first. Denmark’s ministry of defense declined to comment.


The F-16 airframe:

  • is able to pull 9 g's;
  • is a fly-by-wire aircraft;
  • and is controlled by a (largely) fixed side stick.

Transition from any other fighter to the handling qualities of this plane does take a long time, particularly given the high speeds and manoeuvring actions involved - in addition to any aviation English courses, learning to fly this particular aeroplane is tricky and takes time

From this answer:

The F-16 can do 9G in manoeuvres, and the pilot is inclined backwards with their arm on an armrest. If this arm needs to move a stick it shifts position, and during a manoeuvre can get grabbed by the load factor - precise control is much easier if the hand, wrist and arm can stay in one position.

  • $\begingroup$ @RodrigodeAzevedo yep. It has a centre stick and an 8g limit $\endgroup$
    – Koyovis
    Aug 26, 2023 at 9:57

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