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Top general illustrates extent of US help to Kiev’s air force

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Air force personnel from US and Ukraine have been just a phone call away during conflict, director of US Air National Guard says

American pilots have remained in constant contact with their Ukrainian counterparts during the conflict with Russia, about operational tactics and how to use US-made weapons, director of the US Air National Guard, Lieutenant General Michael Loh, has said.

Air-launched weapons, supplied by Washington to Kiev, come with permanent US support, Loh reminded journalists at the Air and Space Forces Association symposium in Colorado last week.

The Americans initially explained to Ukrainian airmen “what you need to do to survive the initial attack,” with this level of cooperation later evolving to “here’s how you can continue to deliver airpower,” Loh explained, in comments cited on Monday by Business Insider.

Most of this consulting has been provided through the California National Guard, which has been cooperating with Ukraine since the early 1990s as part of the National Guard’s State Partnership Program, according to the report.

This has reportedly “allowed a Ukrainian soldier to pick up the phone to say, ‘Hey, I’m having a problem with this weapon system’ to somebody who actually trained them and solve a problem on the ground,” the general pointed out.

Among other things, he said, the US pilots have been advising the Ukrainians on how to conduct combat in line with the US Air Force’s concept for dispersed operations and on how to use US-made weapons, including the AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles and JDAMs guidance kits, which allow bombs to go farther.

“We’re continuing to provide them the tactics, techniques and procedures for things like agile combat employment [and] new weapons systems,” Loh said, as cited by Business Insider, adding that these consultations have “continued over this last 13 months of conflict.”

While it has sent missiles and other weaponry to Ukraine, the US has so far been reluctant to heed Kiev’s call to provide it with F-16 fighter jets. However, NBC reported earlier this month that at least two Ukrainian pilots have been training on simulators at a military base in Arizona, to establish how long it will take to train them to fly Western fighter jets.

Russia has long decried deliveries of weapons to Ukraine by the US and its allies, arguing that these only serve to escalate and prolong the fighting, while also failing to change the ultimate outcome of the Russian military operation. According to Moscow, arms deliveries, intelligence sharing and training provided to Kiev’s troops and other forms of assistance have already made Western nations de-facto parties to the conflict.

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