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Belgium to send F-16 fighter jets to Denmark for Ukrainian pilots training

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 4, 2024 3:37 PM 2 min read
U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly in formation during U.S.-Philippines joint air force exercises dubbed Cope Thunder at Clark Air Base on May 9, 2023, in Mabalacat, Philippines. (Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
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Belgium will send two F-16 fighter jets and 50 training personnel to Denmark from March to September to support the training of Ukrainian pilots, the Belgian broadcaster RTBF reported on Jan. 4, citing comments from the Belgian Defense Ministry.

The training program will include instruction for Ukrainian pilots, technicians, and mission planners.

The "fighter jet coalition" to train Ukrainian pilots and technical staff was officially established in July by 11 founding allied countries but has since expanded to 13 countries. Lessons for Ukrainian aviators are underway in Denmark and the U.S., and a training center was opened in Romania.

Norway announced on Jan. 3 that it was sending two F-16s to Denmark along with 10 instructors.

Belgium will send Ukraine several F-16s, said Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonde in October, adding that the first fighter jets would likely arrive in 2025. She did not specify how many planes Belgium would supply.

The Netherlands will deliver 18 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced on Dec. 22, following a call with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Denmark pledged to provide 19 of its aircraft.

It is unclear when the first F-16s will actually arrive in Ukraine, and some Ukrainian lawmakers have suggested that they will not be in operation until late spring in the best-case scenario.

The Washington Post reported that according to official estimates, Ukrainian pilots would be ready to fly F-16s no earlier than summer 2024.

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