Netherlands could become first country to transfer F-16s to Ukraine, after pilot training — Bloomberg
The Dutch government has been in discussions with the U.S. administration to give the green light for the transfer of the aircraft, sources said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Kyiv and other allied governments have been pressing the Biden administration on the issue for months, Bloomberg notes. As a result, Biden announced last week that the United States would support efforts to train Ukrainian pilots in the use of the aircraft.
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The Netherlands and Denmark, with support from the United Kingdom and Belgium, are leading the coalition to train pilots.
The Dutch government is already considering possible deployment plans and discussing them with its allies. One source noted that while Amsterdam is willing to help strengthen Ukraine's air defense, training pilots and putting together plans and logistics could take many months.
Currently, the Netherlands has 42 F-16s in its inventory, 24 of which are used by the Dutch army and cannot be sent to Ukraine until mid-2024. A dozen of the 18 remaining jets were reportedly to be sold to Draken International, but the Dutch government postponed the transfer in December without explanation, citing commercial confidentiality.
Although no final decision has been made on the deployment of the aircraft to the Ukrainian army, it is possible that Ukraine could receive some of the aircraft on sale or use some of the 24 aircraft currently in service.
Depending on the timing of pilot training, the transfer of the aircraft could take place next year. It is worth noting that the Netherlands maintains all its F-16s to keep them airworthy.
Read also: Biden says new opportunities opened for Ukrainian military by F-16 supply
The Netherlands would become the first country to provide Kyiv with F-16s, Politico reported on April 23, citing and advisor to Ukrainian Defense Minister Yuriy Sak.
NV reported on May 22 that the Dutch government is ready to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters in the near future.
Kyiv hopes that the F-16s will arrive in Ukraine in the fall, said Sak.
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