Ukraine receives first batch of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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Ukraine receives first batch of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands

Photo: EPA-EFE/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

Photo: EPA-EFE/CRISTOBAL HERRERA-ULASHKEVICH

US President Joe Biden and the Danish and Dutch prime ministers all confirmed on Wednesday that the delivery of the first batch of 24 Dutch and Danish F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine had begun.

Several NATO countries pledged they would donate some of their US-made fighter jets a year ago, but the transfer has been marred by delays due to NATO’s insufficient capacity to train the Ukrainian pilots who will fly sorties in the aircraft.

Dissatisfied at the slow pace of training, Ukraine has repeatedly told its American allies that it could send 30 pilots to the US for instruction, however, according to Politico, Washington only had the capacity to train 12 Ukrainian pilots.

Another eight Ukrainian pilots are currently being trained in Denmark, though the training is due to end next year as the Danish Air Force switches to more modern aircraft. A further training centre in Romania is unable to accept as many Ukrainian pilots as Kyiv would like either, Politico reported.

A total of 20 Ukrainian F-16 pilots are expected to graduate by the end of this year, half of the 40 needed to operate a full squadron of 20 jets, a former US Department of Defense official told Politico.

Ukraine is due to receive at least 60 F-16 fighter jets from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway by the end of the summer. However, Western experts who spoke to Politico said they remained unconvinced that the delivery of F-16s had the potential to turn Ukrainian fortunes in the war around given the stringent restrictions imposed on the aircraft’s use by Washington.

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