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Dutch minister: F-16 training in Romania for Ukrainian pilots to begin 'within weeks'

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 12, 2023 5:03 PM 2 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte tour of a hanger containing F-16 fighter jets ahead of a news conference at an airbase near Eindhoven, Netherlands, on Aug. 20, 2023. (Ksenia Kuleshova/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
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The Netherlands is set to send over a dozen F-16 jets to a training center in Romania so that Ukrainian pilots can begin training on the aircraft within weeks, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said on Oct. 11.

"We hope to transfer twelve to eighteen aircraft to Romania within a few weeks, which means the center can start operating," Ollongren said while speaking to the press at the NATO defense ministers meeting in Brussels.

The preparations to set up the training center are "going very well," she added.  

In August, President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine is to receive 42 F-16s from the Netherlands after reaching an agreement with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

The Netherlands and Denmark are leading the allied efforts to provide Ukraine with the fourth-generation American jets.

‎This Week in Ukraine: F-16s and the irrational politics of military aid on Apple Podcasts
‎Show This Week in Ukraine, Ep F-16s and the irrational politics of military aid - Aug 25, 2023

Also at the meeting in Brussels on Oct. 11 was Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen, who said that Denmark expects to deliver the first F-16s to Ukraine in March or April of 2024.

Denmark has pledged to provide 19 of its aircraft to bolster the Ukrainian Air Force.

The Dutch and Danish efforts are part of a broader "fighter jet coalition" to provide training for Ukrainian pilots and technical staff.

The coalition was officially established in July and involves over a dozen countries.

On Oct. 9, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that Denmark is working to "expand and deepen" the coalition of countries willing to provide Ukraine with F-16 aircraft.

Austin: F-16s could arrive in Ukraine as early as next spring
“As we look at what it will take to provide initial capability, this will take months, as we’ve said before. The earliest is next spring when we can begin to see additional capability,” Austin said in response to a question from the Kyiv Independent at a press conference in Brussels on Oct. 11.
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