US Department of Defense Spokesperson Brigadier General Patrick Ryder explained behind the scenes of US President Joe Biden's approval of F-16 training for Ukrainian pilots at the daily press conference.
Stating that after the Ukraine Defense Contact Group meeting in April, many countries made a request to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for permission to train Ukrainian pilots in F-16 aircraft, Ryder said, "He took the issue into consideration and put it into the National Security Council policy process to discuss how to support this request in terms of Ukraine's medium and long-term defense needs."
Stating that there was unanimous support for this request in the National Security Council, Ryder said that Austin conveyed this issue to Biden before the G-7 summit.
Ryder stated that they are working on the details of the training process and that it could begin in the coming weeks or months. When asked if there is any timetable for the completion of the training and the delivery of the aircraft to Ukraine, the US general replied, "F-16 training and the delivery of aircraft to Ukraine is a long-term commitment, not related to the expected counter-attack."
Commenting on the ongoing clashes in the town of Bahmut on the eastern border of Ukraine, Ryder said that the situation in the region is still very dynamic. "Even if Russia captures it, we assess that this is not a strategic gain and that Russian forces are paying a heavy price in terms of capability," Ryder said.
At the G7 Leaders Summit in Hiroshima, Japan, US President Joe Biden said he would support international efforts to train Ukrainian pilots to operate F-16 fighter jets. US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan said, "As the training progresses, we will work with our allies to determine when, by whom and how many aircraft will be delivered."