Netherlands and Denmark to send dozens of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Volodymyr Zelensky said the Netherlands had promised 42 F-16s, while Denmark confirmed on Sunday it would send 19 fighter jets

20 August 2023

The Netherlands and Denmark have pledged to send dozens of spare F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, the first firm promise from Nato allies to hand over modern warplanes.

After meeting with Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, in Amsterdam, Volodymyr Zelensky said that the Netherlands had promised 42 F-16s.

“Forty-two jets and this is just the beginning. Thank you, Netherlands!” he said.

Mr Rutte said that the final number of F-16s to be handed over had not been agreed, but that the deal was still an important step.

“This is a next step in our support for Ukraine. A long-term step, which sends a clear signal: that we will continue supporting Ukraine,” he said.

Denmark confirmed on Sunday that it would send 19 fighter jets. 

An F-16 fighter jet in a hanger in the Netherlands during a tour by Volodymyr Zelenskiy
An F-16 fighter jet in a hanger in the Netherlands during a tour by Volodymyr Zelenskiy CREDIT: Ksenia Kuleshova/Bloomberg

Zelensky visited Denmark later on Sunday and Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a joint press conference that “hopefully” six F-16s could be delivered around New Year, eight more next year and the remaining five in 2025.

The US on Friday approved the transfer of F-16 fighter jets from Denmark and the Netherlands to Ukraine. The Nato members have said that they are upgrading their air forces to the more modern F-35 warplanes and will have spare F-16s.

Mr Zelensky has begged Ukraine’s Western backers to send F-16s to challenge Russia’s dominance of the skies above Ukrainian battlefields.

Ukraine’s neighbours, such as Poland and Slovakia, have already handed over their Soviet-era fighter jets, but they have said that they don’t have enough F-16s to give to Ukraine.

Ukrainian pilots have started English language training ahead of learning to fly F-16s at a centre in Romania. US officials have said that it is now unlikely that Ukrainian F-16s will be flying sorties before next summer.

Russian military bloggers have said that the West will end up sending an assortment of different Western fighter jets to Ukraine.

They said that Ukrainian pilots may be training to fly French Mirage fighter jets and that Mr Zelensky had been negotiating with Sweden’s government this week on the transfer of Gripen warplanes.

“A similar situation arose before the appearance of modern Western tanks and other armoured vehicles on the front. Each of the Western leaders declared the same action one after the other,” reported Rybar, which has around 1.2 million subscribers.


    • First the turkish tick needs to be forced to allow Sweden into Nato. As soon as this happened i’m 100% sure Ukraine will receive quite a few Gripens + training asap.

        • Of course they do. They must replace their Gripens with Nato birds first. How will they defend their airspace without Nato protection? The US/UK security guarantees are as worthless as the Budapest Memorandum.

          • As I understand it, this model has been superseded by a more modern version and is therefore superfluous to requirements.
            Swedish reluctance to supply these very good aircraft to Ukraine has been political rather than practical.
            Whilst I am glad that Finland and Sweden are joining, I think it is utterly grotesque and morally bankrupt of Nato to allow them to leapfrog Ukraine in this cynical way.

            • In case of an attack by nazi RuSSia, Sweden would need any plane and any tank, no matter how old they are. Ukraine knows this better than any other nation. I would not wonder if Erdogan is also secretly blocking Ukraine from joining Nato no matter what Erdogoon officially says. Nato is still a mess and can’t be trusted so far.

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