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Netherlands to hand over all its F-16 fighters to Ukraine, Dutch Defense Minister says

Dutch Defense Minister
Dutch Defense Minister and Ukrainian Defense Minister during their meeting in Kyiv on 22 August 2023. Credit: mil.gov.ua

The Netherlands will hand Ukraine all of its F-16 fighter jets, except for a few aircraft that will be used to train Ukrainian pilots, the Defense Minister of the Netherlands, Kajsa Ollongren, said on 24 August in her interview with Yevropeiska Pravda.

In total, the Netherlands has 42 F-16 fighters. The Dutch Defense Minister explained that the Netherlands is now switching from F-16s to the newer F-35s, but because of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, it was decided not to sell the old F-16 and hand them to Ukraine’s Air Force.

Apart from training in the Netherlands, the Dutch Defense Ministry is also considering training Ukrainian pilots on the territory of Romania, Kajsa Ollongren said.

“Training for pilots never ends. So, some of the aircraft will be used wherever the training is that you will always need. As long as you are using F-16s, you’re going to be training new pilots, and you’re going to need that training center,” Kajsa Ollongren said. “You cannot train one batch of pilots and stop training, and it has to be a continuous process. Six to eight months (for training) is already extremely fast. No one has ever done it so fast before.”

The Dutch Defense Minister said that according to her “realistic expectations” Ukraine will receive F-16s from the Netherlands next year.

The Netherlands and Denmark will give F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine once conditions for the transfer are met, the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on 20 August as Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the Netherlands, according to Reuters.

Following an announcement by the Dutch Prime Minister, the Danish Ministry of Defense confirmed Denmark’s intentions to donate the F-16s to Ukraine.

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