Ukraine will receive 42 coveted fourth-generation F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and Denmark, the Dutch and Ukrainian leaders said on Sunday, after months of Western hesitation on providing the advanced aircraft—it marks the first time military jets made in the West have been guaranteed to the war-torn country.
“Mark Rutte and I agreed on the number of F-16s that will be provided to Ukraine after training our pilots and engineers is completed. 42 planes,” Zelensky said in a statement posted to social media, referring to the prime minister of the Netherlands along with a picture of the two leaders smiling together. “And this is just the beginning,” he added.
Ukraine has long requested advanced fighter jets, such as the U.S. F-16s, from its Western allies, but this is the first time Ukraine has received a confirmation that the jets will arrive in Ukrainian territory. The aircraft are a significant upgrade from the Soviet-era fleet it has been using throughout its war effort, now into into its 18th month.
But Kyiv’s international backers had been reluctant to supply F-16s to Ukraine, which mark a longer-term, more expensive commitment to Kyiv than previous military aid packages. Although several countries had committed to helping train Ukrainian pilots and crew, NATO countries had dragged their feet when it came to pledging the advanced platforms.
Speaking in a joint press conference with Zelensky, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands and Denmark were committing to sending F-16s to Ukraine, “including cooperation with the United States and other partners once the conditions for such a transfer have been met.”
“Conditions include, but are not limited to, successfully selected, tested and trained Ukrainian F-16 personnel, as well as necessary authorizations, infrastructure and logistics,” Denmark’s Defense Ministry added in a statement. “We invite other interested nations to participate.”
This story will be updated shortly with additional information.
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