When Ukraine gets F-16s, there will be the next question of how quickly its pilots can learn to operate the new fighter jets.
Learning to fly a new airplane is not easy, even for those who already have a pilot’s license. It is, of course, a logical way for Ukraine to train existing pilots to operate other aircraft models, but even for them, mastering controls of the F-16 may take more than a few months.
According to The Drive, the full course of such studies can last up to 9 months.
In the first 4 weeks, pilots have to finish the theoretical part of the training process. Here, they learn the operating principles of the systems available on the F-16 aircraft. Additionally, they have to master the algorithm of actions in emergency situations
Then, pilots have to complete a series of simulator sessions where they practice completing the basic sequences learned during theoretical lectures. In total, at least 8 simulation sessions may be needed.
The third part of the training is where the cadet must perform four flights in the two-seat F-16D with an instructor. This is a prerequisite before he (or she) is allowed to proceed to solo flights.
The fourth part of the training is basically pure practice. Every pilot must conduct 60 solo flights. In addition to fine-tuning plane control skills, they also need to learn to perform air-to-air missile strikes and attacks against ground targets. Also, pilots need to learn to fly at night.
With this, the F-16 pilot’s training course is considered complete.
There is also a separate course for experienced pilots who know how to operate certain other models of Western aircraft. This course lasts 69 days and consists of 210 academic theory hours, up to 20 simulator sessions, 6 flights to master F-16 piloting skills, and 16 to 24 solo flights.
According to the source of this information, making the course even shorter than that is not possible. Plus, Ukraine does not have pilots who have prior experience flying other types of Western fighters.
Having this limitation in mind, Ukrainian pilots would need at least 3 months of training just to receive the basic qualifications to operate F-16. Further training would be necessary to achieve top-level aircraft mastery skills.