The Ukrainian ministry of defense revealed that the initial group of pilots designated for the F-16s has completed their basic training in the United Kingdom and are now advancing to hands-on training with the jets in Denmark.
Last week, the Netherlands declared its readiness to deliver 18 F-16 combat jets to Ukraine, a commitment made at a time when Kyiv is facing challenges on multiple fronts.
Following approval from the United States, Denmark and the Netherlands in August agreed to supply a total of up to 61 jets to Ukraine, contingent on the completion of training for Ukrainian pilots.
Dutch defense minister Kajsa Ollongren communicated to the parliament through a letter the intention to provide these advanced jets, a decision initially made public in the summer.
Ollongren stated, “With F-16s, Ukraine can better defend itself against Russian attacks.” She emphasized the significance of the aircraft, noting, “They are extremely important because the ongoing Russian aggression shows no sign of ending. That is why we are continuing unabated with our support for Ukraine.”
Ukrainian defense minister Rustem Umerov emphasized the significance of this development, describing it as “a very significant contribution to the international air force capability coalition for Ukraine.”
Additionally, a few Ukrainian pilots have received training in Arizona, USA.
The acquisition of F-16s by Ukraine was uncertain until May, when US President Joe Biden authorized Nato allies to supply the jets, following persistent requests from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Countries like the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium have agreed to provide Ukraine with F-16s, with the Netherlands planning to send an initial batch of 18 out of 42 jets.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, has downplayed the impact of these jets on the conflict, asserting that their introduction will merely extend the duration of the war.
(With inputs from agencies)
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