The Netherlands and Denmark have announced plans to donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. The pledges come as Ukraine continues urging Western allies to provide aircraft to strengthen its air force.
Denmark Commits 19 F-16s
Denmark committed to providing 19 F-16s in phases once pilot training is complete. An initial six jets could be delivered around New Year, followed by eight more next year and five in 2025.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the pledge a “token of Denmark’s unwavering support” for Ukraine’s fight for freedom against Russian aggression. The phased delivery allows Denmark to backfill its own fleet as jets are donated.
Netherlands to Donate Up to 42
Meanwhile, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed the Netherlands will also supply F-16s to Ukraine from its current fleet. The Netherlands operates 42 F-16s that are being replaced by F-35s.
Rutte did not specify how many of the 42 F-16s would go to Ukraine. But the donated jets will be drawn from existing Dutch stocks once conditions are met.
Contingent on Training Timelines
The transferred F-16s are contingent on Ukraine completing comprehensive pilot and maintenance training, which could take around 10 months in total. As a result, the fighter jets likely wouldn’t be operational for Ukraine until well into 2024.
Boosts Ukraine’s Air Power
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed the pledges, saying the F-16s would strengthen Ukraine’s defenses and counteroffensive efforts against Russia’s invasion.
Ukraine’s current Soviet-era jets are outmatched by Russia’s larger air force. The donated F-16s will provide a major boost to Ukraine’s combat air capabilities.
Shows Western Military Support
The agreements demonstrate steadfast Western support for meeting Ukraine’s defense needs. But Russia will likely view the F-16 transfers as further justification for its claims of NATO aggression.
Raises Tensions but Boosts Ukraine
While the F-16 donations could raise tensions, they offer vital air power as Ukraine enters a second year of war. The pledges highlight Western resolve to back Ukraine through an extended conflict.