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Denmark, Netherlands confirm receiving US approval to send Ukraine F-16 jets

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk August 18, 2023 12:43 PM 2 min read
F-16 fighter jets during a military parade in Warsaw on the day of the Polish army on Aug. 15, 2018, Warsaw, Poland. (Photo credit: Krystian Dobuszynski/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Denmark and the Netherlands confirmed they had received approval from the United States to hand over F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine when pilot training is completed.

Copenhagen sent a request to Washington regarding the aircraft supply to Kyiv and received a "friendly response," Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen told state-owned broadcaster TV 2.

He added, though, that allies have yet to decide when exactly the planes would be delivered to Ukraine.

Washington's decision was first reported by Reuters, citing an unnamed U.S. official on Aug. 17. According to the media outlet, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent letters to his Danish and Dutch counterparts assuring them that the requests would be approved.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, Blinken said the U.S. backs both - the transfer of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine and the comprehensive training of Ukrainian pilots under the guidance of F-16 instructors.

Uncertainties surround anticipated F-16 training
US officials are waiting on European leaders to submit a definitive plan for training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets, which the US must authorize, CNN reported on Aug. 1.

Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra called the move "a major milestone for Ukraine to defend its people and its country."

"Many thanks to Secretary Blinken for the good and swift cooperation. Now, we will further discuss the subject with our European partners," Hoekstra tweeted.

During the Vilnius NATO summit in July, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced the official formation of a coalition to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16s, led by Denmark and the Netherlands.

The coalition plans to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s in August in Denmark, and a training center will also be set up in Romania.

However, the forthcoming F-16 training has been marked by uncertainties. While the Biden administration has approved the training, it cannot give final authorization until it receives a completed training plan from European leaders.

Air Force: F-16s can’t defend Ukraine this fall or winter
Ukraine will not be able to defend its airspace with U.S. F-16 fighter jets by the coming fall or winter, spokesperson for the Air Force Yurii Ihnat said on Aug. 16.
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