The US allows the transfer of Danish and Dutch F-16 warplanes to Kyiv
The United States has granted approval for the transfer of American-made F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands to Ukraine, once Ukrainian pilots have undergone complete training to operate them.
According to a spokesperson from the US State Department, this approach will allow Ukraine to fully utilize its newfound capabilities.
Ukraine has welcomed this decision, which it had been actively advocating for since the previous year.
However, it is anticipated that several months will pass before Kyiv is capable of employing the F-16s to counter Russia’s air superiority.
The Netherlands is believed to possess around 24 operational F-16s that are scheduled to be phased out and replaced with more advanced warplanes.
Denmark also intends to modernize its fleet of approximately 30 F-16s.
Initially, the US and its allies had ruled out supplying F-16s to Ukraine due to concerns about escalating tensions with Russia, a nuclear-armed nation.
Russia, which initiated a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, has yet to publicly address this matter.
Both Denmark and the Netherlands have received “formal assurances” regarding the transfer of their multi-role F-16 warplanes, as stated by the US State Department spokesperson.
Furthermore, the spokesperson mentioned that this transfer will occur “once the initial group of pilots completes their training.”
Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra expressed his support for the US decision, describing it as a significant step for Ukraine’s ability to safeguard its citizens and its sovereignty.
“Now we will further discuss the subject with our European partners,” he wrote in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Danish Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen echoed his words.
“The government has said several times that a donation is a natural next step after training. We are discussing it with close allies,” he told Denmark’s Ritzau news agency.
In Ukraine, Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov described the US decision as “great news”.
“Our military has proven it is filled with fast learners. We will soon prove that Ukraine’s victory is inevitable. Thank you to all our partners and friends in the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Onward to Victory!” he wrote on X.
An 11-member coalition of Ukraine’s allies in the West is due to start training Ukrainian pilots later this month and they are expected to be ready next year.
Earlier this week, Ukraine’s Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat admitted that Kyiv would not be able to operate F-16s this coming autumn and winter.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is widely considered one of the world’s most reliable fighter jets.
It can be armed with precision-guided missiles and bombs and is able to fly at 1,500mph (2,400km/h), according to the US Air Force.
The F-16’s targeting capabilities would allow Ukraine to attack Russian forces in all weather conditions and at night with greater accuracy.
Ukraine is believed to have dozens of combat aircraft – mostly MiGs – all dating from the Soviet era, and the country is currently badly outgunned by Russia in the air.
Kyiv needs modern warplanes to help protect its skies from regular deadly Russian missile and drone attacks, and also to support its counter-offensive in southern and eastern Ukraine that has so far yielded limited results.