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Denmark confirms Ukraine set to receive first F-16 jets this summer

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk February 22, 2024 2:22 PM 2 min read
Norway's Minister of Defense, Bjørn Arild Gram, sits in the back of an F16 aircraft at Bodø airport, Norway, where the final preparations are being made before two Norwegian F-16 aircraft are sent to Denmark to be used in the training of Ukrainian pilots on Jan. 3, 2024. (Jan Langhaug / NTB / AFP via Getty Images)
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Ukraine can expect to receive the first batch of U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets from Denmark already this summer, the Danish Defense Ministry announced on Feb. 22.

Denmark has pledged to send Ukraine 19 F-16s, with the first batch of six aircraft initially expected to be delivered in spring 2024 and the rest by 2025. There were reports in January that Denmark's donation of six F-16s to Kyiv could be delayed for as much as six months.

"It is difficult to set a fixed timetable for the donation of F-16 fighter jets because there are several conditions that must be met in order for Ukraine to use the donated aircraft," said Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

"But I have informed the conciliation circle that we are now working on getting it into a higher unity this summer when we expect to be able to hand over the first F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine if the preparations proceed as planned."

The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and Belgium have pledged to supply Ukraine with dozens of U.S.-made fourth-generation jets, though the exact timeline and number of planes to be sent have remained unclear.

F-16s for Ukraine: When will they arrive and what can they do?
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is an American air superiority fighter that Kyiv has begged for since the start of the full-scale invasion and is expected to finally start receiving this year. It’s a versatile workhorse of a jet that’s fought in dozens of wars and is

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas and an unnamed European official told the Foreign Policy magazine on Feb. 18 that Ukraine may receive its first F-16 fighter jets this June. Ukraine's Air Force spokesperson, Yurii Ihnat, said on television he cannot confirm nor deny the June timeline.

The final delivery of the first batch of Danish F-16s depends on the readiness of Ukraine’s infrastructure, pilots, and support personnel, among other factors, according to Poulsen. Allies are reportedly helping Ukraine to adapt its infrastructure for operating F-16s.

Denmark, along with the Netherlands and the U.S., has led an international coalition established last year to provide Kyiv with F-16 fighter jets and train Ukrainian pilots.

Ukraine has received Soviet-era MiG-29 fighter jets from Poland and Slovakia but was pushing for more advanced aircraft for months until Washington authorized the delivery of F-16 jets in August 2023.

Ihnat has previously said that Ukraine needed 128 modern fighter jets to fully replace the old aircraft fleet. F-16 aircraft would provide Ukrainian troops with much-needed air superiority in occupied territories, according to Ihnat.

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