Netherlands May Send F-16s to Ukraine after Pilot Training – Bloomberg

Friday, 26 May 2023

The Netherlands may send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine after the pilots have completed training.

According to Bloomberg, citing two individuals familiar with the matter, the Dutch government has been in talks with US officials in recent weeks to get President Joe Biden's administration to give the "green light" for the aircraft supply to Ukraine, the agency's sources said.

The Netherlands has been exploring and discussing the plans to train Ukrainian pilots with its allies.

Although the Dutch government is willing to help strengthen Ukraine's air defence "as soon as possible", pilot training and planning for deploying fighter jets and logistics could take many months.

The Netherlands currently has 42 F-16 fighter jets in service, including 24 currently in use by the country's defence forces, which cannot be transferred to Ukraine until mid-2024. Another 12 of the 18 aircraft were to be sold to Draken International, but the government postponed the deal in December without explanation.

Ukraine is likely to receive some of the aircraft planned to be sold or some of the 24 aircraft from the Dutch forces next year, depending on the training schedule.

The Netherlands maintains the airworthiness of all its F-16s through regular maintenance.

A Dutch Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said that the government would discuss the potential delivery of the F-16s to Ukraine later. She added that the current priority is pilot training.

Earlier, Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of Defence, announced that Denmark and the Netherlands would lead a European coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, while Norway, Belgium, Portugal and Poland also offered to contribute to the training.

Previously, Austin voiced hope that training for Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s would begin in the coming weeks. Ukrainian pilots will be trained on F-16 fighter jets at military bases in Europe, the Pentagon stated earlier.

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