In a significant boost to Ukraine’s aerial defense capabilities against Russian aggression, Denmark has pledged to dedicate significant resources to the training of Ukrainian F-16 pilots, according to acting Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen. The initiative follows an announcement from US President Joe Biden, supporting joint efforts with US allies to train Ukrainian pilots, reports DR Nyheder and Ritzau.
“We are now moving forward with the aim of making a joint effort to retrain the Ukrainian pilots to eventually be able to fly F-16,” said Poulsen. He added, “Denmark will use a lot of effort to make this a priority.”
While the specifics of the training plan are yet to be outlined, Poulsen emphasizes the urgency of the matter, stating, “It is my clear expectation that it should be put in place as quickly as possible. The final model should be in place over the next month.”
Other countries, including the Germany, France, Portugal, Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, and, just today, the USA, have also backed the initiative. Their support follows the United States’ crucial statements that it will allow the reexport of F16s to Ukraine, as it produces the F-16 aircraftm and that it is joining the fighter jet coalition.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte expressed on Twitter that “Ukraine can count on the unwavering support of the Netherlands and its international partners.”
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy expressed gratitude towards the US and President Biden for their “historic decision to support an international fighter jet coalition. This will greatly improve our air defense.”
The announcement is particularly welcome as Ukraine has long requested more advanced fighter aircraft, a request previously denied by the US, which lifted its objection to supplying F-16s to Ukraine and joined the fighter jet coalition only today.
Military analyst Anders Puck Nielsen at the Defense Academy suggests that experienced fighter pilots can be trained to handle the F-16s in a few months.
Nielsen stresses the urgency of modernizing the Ukrainian air defense, stating, “The Ukrainian Air Force is quietly being phased out, and something simply needs to be done to secure it in the long term.” According to the analyst, the airspace over Ukraine is one of the areas where Russia has been superior.
The training of Ukrainian pilots, in collaboration with US allies, has been marked as a priority, as it stands as a crucial step in enhancing Ukraine’s air defense capabilities in its ongoing war against Russia.