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Zelensky: First Dutch F-16 jets already in Romania

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 7, 2023 9:19 PM 1 min read
F-16 Tiger Demo Team performs on the first day of NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days in Czechia on Sept. 16, 2023. Illustrative purposes only. (Lukas Kabon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Five Dutch F-16 fighter jets have already arrived at a training center in Romania to help prepare Ukrainian pilots for flying the aircraft, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Nov. 7.

"I'm grateful to the Netherlands and Prime Minister Mark Rutte for leading the way in supporting Ukraine," Zelensky wrote on the social media platform X.

"We keep working together to welcome F-16s into Ukrainian skies as soon as possible."

The Dutch Defense Ministry announced earlier on Nov. 7 that the five F-16s are en route to Romania.

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The Netherlands would provide 12-18 F-16s for training purposes, but the jets will remain Dutch property and will only be flown in NATO territory, the statement said.

The training of Ukrainian pilots began in Denmark this August in partnership with other nations of the "fighter jet coalition." Washington later announced that it would launch its own training sessions for Ukrainian aviators in October.

The training coalition was originally formed in July with the purpose of using resources and facilities from Ukraine's allies to help train Ukrainian pilots.

Although the pace of F-16 procurement and training has picked up, it's estimated that the first Ukrainian pilots to undergo F-16 jet fighter training will not be ready to fly them until summer 2024.


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