PARIS — France plans to supply Mirage 2000-5 jets to Ukraine and begin training pilots this summer, with the first training completed by the end of the year, French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

France is building a coalition with other countries to provide the jets, similar to the coalition by several other European countries to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighters, Macron said in an interview with broadcasters TF1 and France 2. The French president and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy were in Normandy for D-Day commemorations.

“We’ll be launching a new cooperation program and announcing the transfer of Mirage 2000-5s — French fighter jets that will enable Ukraine to protect its soil and airspace,” Macron said. “From tomorrow, we’re going to launch a pilot training program, followed by the transfer of these aircraft.”

Dassault Aviation produced about 600 Mirage 2000 jets, of which half were exported to eight countries including Greece, the United Arab Emirates and Taiwan. The Mirage 2000-5 is an updated air defense variant with improved radar. It’s compatible with the Mica air-to-air missile as well as the Scalp cruise missiles that France has supplied to Ukraine, which is fighting off a Russian invasion.

Macron declined to say how many jets France will provide, noting details will follow on Friday when Zelenskyy is in Paris.

“The key factor is pilot training time, and so we’re going to propose to President Zelenskyy that pilots be trained as early as this summer — it normally takes five to six months — so that by the end of the year they’ll be able to fly these aircraft,” Macron said, adding that the Ukrainian pilots will be trained in France.

The Dutch and Danish governments last year announced they would provide F-16 jets to Ukraine, with Norway and Belgium joining the coalition. Training of pilots for the aircraft has been ongoing in several European countries.

France will also propose to train and equip a brigade of 4,500 Ukrainian soldiers, according to Macron. He said France and allies are considering training soldiers on Ukrainian soil in response to a request by the embattled country.

“Is this something that is an escalation factor? The answer is no,” Macron said. “Going to train someone in the western zone, which is a free area of Ukraine, is not aggressive towards Russia.”

Macron said Ukraine can use French arms to attack locations in Russia from where the country is being targeted, and restricting such use would be equal to not allowing Ukrainians to defend themselves against being bombed.

“The limit is set by what the Russians do,” Macron said. “We’re not the ones who decide now that we’re going to change our methods and attack Ukraine from Russian soil.”

Zelenskyy will meet with French Armed Forces Minister Sebastien Lecornu in Paris on Friday. He’ll also meet with defense firms KNDS, Thales, MBDA, Dassault Aviation and Arquus, as well as attend the signing of a letter of intent with KNDS to create a unit in Ukraine, according to the Armed Forces Ministry.

Rudy Ruitenberg is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. He started his career at Bloomberg News and has experience reporting on technology, commodity markets and politics.

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