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Ukraine to receive first F-16 fighters from Netherlands “soon”

Dutch Defense Minister Ollongren informs parliament about approval of export license for 24 F-16 fighters and 7 engines to Ukraine. The first delivery is expected soon, details are kept confidential.
F-16 training
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte inspect F-16 fighter jets in Eindhoven, Netherlands, August 2023. Credit: Presidential Office of Ukraine
Ukraine to receive first F-16 fighters from Netherlands “soon”

The Dutch government has granted an export license for 24 F-16 fighter jets and seven aircraft engines to Ukraine, marking a significant development in Western military support for the country. Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren informed the parliament about this decision in a letter, stating that the first delivery of aircraft will take place “soon.”

For over two years, Ukraine has sought US-made F-16 fighter jets to enhance its air defenses against Russia’s air superiority. Following the United States’ approval last fall, training for Ukrainian pilots is underway in Denmark, Britain, and the US, with expectations for them to be combat-ready this summer.

According to the letter, the export license was issued on 19 June by the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation. The aircraft and engines are intended for use by the Ukrainian armed forces for self-defense against ongoing Russian aggression.

Ollongren emphasized the confidential nature of the delivery process, noting,

“At Ukraine’s request, there will be no more public communication in the run-up to the first F-16 delivery, and the chamber will be informed about this confidentially.”

The decision follows previous announcements made by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in December 2023, when he stated that the Netherlands had decided to begin preparations for transferring the first 18 F-16 fighters to Ukraine. In February, it was revealed that the Dutch Ministry of Defense was preparing an additional six F-16 fighters for delivery to Ukraine, bringing the total promised number to 24.

The Netherlands is not alone in its commitment to bolster Ukraine’s air capabilities. Denmark has also pledged to deliver F-16s to Ukraine, with deliveries expected to begin in the summer. Additionally, Belgium has announced plans to transfer 30 of its F-16 fighters to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by 2028.

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