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July 01, 2024

Reps. Schiff and Golden, Colleagues Urge DoD to Support Ukraine’s Request to Train Additional F-16 Pilots

Washington, D.C.— Today, Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) and Jared Golden (D-Maine) along with 13 House colleagues urged Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to support Ukraine’s request for 10 additional F-16 pilots to be trained this year as part of their ongoing fight against Russian aggression. 

“This 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 recent commitment by allied nations to supply Ukraine with F-16 aircraft is a monumental step forward in bolstering Ukraine's defensive capabilities. These multi-role aircraft can provide air superiority, close air support, and reconnaissance, which are essential for countering Russian forces. In turn, this can lead to more effective defensive and offensive operations by Ukrainian forces, potentially altering the dynamics on the ground in favor of Ukraine,” wrote the lawmakers.

“We understand that the Department of Defense is operating under significant constraints and commitments. However, given the urgency of this request, we ask that the Department of Defense make every effort to support the admittance of an additional 10 Ukrainian pilots into F-16 pilot training programs this year, either here in the United States or in other allied countries,” continued the lawmakers.

“We are confident that with your support, Ukraine can fully meet its training requirements that accommodate these additional 10 pilots, ensuring that Ukraine can fully leverage the capabilities of the F-16 aircraft while addressing a crucial gap in its defensive strategy. This initiative 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. This effort would be a testament to our enduring commitment to supporting Ukraine and upholding international peace and security,” the letter concluded.

At the start of the conflict, Schiff visited Ukraine where he met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his top national security team in Kyiv for nearly three hours. He has repeatedly called for increased funding for Ukraine’s defense including leading efforts to push the Biden Administration to use seized Russian assets to aid Ukraine. More recently, Schiff supported emergency supplemental aid for Ukraine passed in April.

The letter was also signed by Representatives Haley M. Stevens (D-Mich.), Donald G. Davis (D-N.C.), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio.), Abigail Davis Spanberger (D-Va.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Ted W. Lieu (D-Calif.), André Carson (D-Ind.), Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.), and Dan Goldman (D-N.Y.).

Read the full letter here.