Ukraine: Getting closer to F-16s

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren brings the news. He said in his statements that Ukrainian pilots could start training on F-16 fighters as early as this summer, as a first step in order for Ukraine to gain an advantage over the Russians in the war being waged in their country.

Netherlands and Denmark, both NATO members, are leading an international coalition to train pilots and support personnel, maintain aircraft and eventually supply Ukraine with F-16s. According to the plan, the first crews could be ready within 6 months, and Denmark qualifies as the best place to train them.

A final decision has not yet been made on Kiev’s request to supply F-16s, the Dutch Foreign Ministry said. The US-backed training program will include Belgium and Luxembourg, while France and Britain have offered help, he said.

While the adoption of the F-16s will not affect the war in the short term, it will bring Ukraine more in line with NATO’s military capabilities, which “is very important for the future,” the minister said.

It actually takes at least 2-3 years to become an F-16 pilot. Procuring F-16s is not an easy task for Ukraine either, whose pilots and technicians have no previous experience with Western fighters.

The whole effort has a medium- and long-term horizon, with the aim of bringing Ukraine closer to Western defense and security structures. The 6 month training period is only an introductory course that will train Ukrainian pilots and technicians in the basic philosophy of the fighter and not in the formation of combat-ready crews, ready to immediately assist in operations against the Russian invasion.