The US has sanctioned the dispatch of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, originally from Denmark and the Netherlands, pending the completion of pilot training. Washington hastened the approval process in response to Ukraine’s request for the US-manufactured F-16s to counterbalance Russia’s aerial dominance. Denmark and the Netherlands recently sought assurance from the US for this transfer, as official approval is required to move military jets from US allies to Ukraine.
Training and Potential Impact on Ukrainian Defense
Ukraine is gearing up with a coalition of 11 countries set to train its pilots to operate the F-16s in Denmark. Hopes are high to see the training bear fruit by early 2024. As Nato members, Denmark and the Netherlands have been at the forefront of training pilots and supporting personnel to equip Ukraine with F-16s for its conflict with Russia.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, earlier in May, had hinted at Netherlands’ inclination to offer F-16s to Ukraine, especially as the nation is currently phasing out these jets from its defense arsenal. A note of assurance came from US State Secretary Antony Blinken, expressing full support for the jet transfer and the associated pilot training. However, US officials have intimated that while the F-16s would aid Ukraine, they might not drastically shift the power dynamics considering Russia’s advanced air defense systems.