The first deliveries of American F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine are expected in early 2024, but the exact dates have not yet been determined, Politico writes citing Western officials.
According to them, the question of who will transfer the planes to Kyiv also remains open, but the Defense Ministry of a European country said that it will most likely be the Netherlands and Denmark. They now lead a multinational coalition to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16s – these countries have special aviation simulators.
Meanwhile the day before it became known that the allies of Ukraine are considering Romania as a possible place for training of the AFU. Probably, it will be engaged by Lockheed Martin company, which produces F-16s. The training can begin this summer. The Romanian Air Force has 17 second-hand F-16 fighters, purchased in Portugal, and is planning to buy another 32 from Norway.
In addition to Denmark and the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Poland and the United States have joined the coalition to transfer the F-16s to Ukraine as the producing country.
The issue of providing Ukraine with the fighters was discussed at the Ramstein meeting last week. President Volodymyr Zelensky said that training of the AFU for F-16s will begin in August, and Kyiv may receive the planes itself in six to seven months. Meanwhile, in April, U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Colin Kahl said it would take a year and a half to redeploy if such a decision were made.
According to the British International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the coalition countries are capable of providing at least 125 F-16 fighters in full combat readiness. Kyiv is asking for 24 to 36 such aircrafts.