The Netherlands and Denmark have jointly declared their intention to contribute 61 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine’s air force following President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s diplomatic visits to both nations. This development comes in response to Ukraine’s ongoing efforts to bolster its air defense capabilities.
Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said her country would provide 19 jets, “hopefully” six around the new year, eight more next year, and the remaining five in 2025. “Please take this donation as a token of Denmark’s unwavering support for your country’s fight for freedom,” Frederiksen said.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not provide the specifics of the Dutch contribution. However, it is known that the Netherlands possesses 42 F-16s in its air force, which are gradually replaced by more advanced US-made F-35s.
At a joint press conference with President Zelenskiy at an airbase in Eindhoven, Rutte affirmed, “Today, we announce the Netherlands and Denmark’s commitment to transferring F-16 aircraft to Ukraine’s air force.” He further noted that the transfer would occur from existing stockpiles once conditions were met.
Unlike Rutte, President Zelenskiy indicated a firmer understanding of the details regarding the Dutch contribution. Zelenskiy agreed with Rutte to transfer 42 F-16s to Ukraine once Ukrainian pilots and engineers completed their training.
This marked a significant step forward in Ukraine’s aspiration for enhanced air defense capabilities. The transfer process, however, entails comprehensive training for pilots and ground crews.
It will require six months of pilot training and an additional four months for pilot crews to attain the required level of technical English proficiency.
The timeline for the operational readiness of the F-16s suggests that they might not be fully equipped for combat missions in Ukraine until 2024. This would align with the conflict’s potential two-year duration.
Nevertheless, the joint announcement from the Netherlands and Denmark underscores their unwavering commitment to this endeavor.
The transfer of F-16s had previously encountered delays, but recent developments indicate a renewed commitment. The United States extended its support for the transfer via a letter to the Dutch and Danish governments, contingent upon the successful completion of the training program.
Zelenskiy Stresses Fighter Jet Acquisition’s Vital Role in Enhancing Air Defense and Counteroffensive Tactics
President Zelenskiy emphasized that the acquisition of fighter jets is pivotal for strengthening Ukraine’s air defenses and enhancing its counteroffensive strategies. He underscored the significance of the aircraft in bolstering Ukraine’s resilience, especially in anticipation of the challenging winter months.
With a modest air force primarily composed of Soviet-era planes, Ukraine’s capabilities are limited compared to its Russian counterpart. Moscow’s more extensive air force poses a substantial threat, emphasizing the urgency of enhancing Ukraine’s defenses.
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov recently announced the initiation of pilot training on national television. Rutte confirmed the imminent commencement of military training, focusing on meeting prerequisites, including English language proficiency.
Source: The Guardian