US dictates pace: NATO countries may hand over F-16 jets to Ukraine

While Ukraine awaits much-needed F-16 jets, the US is simplifying the process for Denmark and the Netherlands to pass on these multirole fighters. A coalition led by Denmark is training Ukrainian pilots.

The US government wants to allow Denmark and the Netherlands to quickly transfer US F-16 multirole fighter aircraft to Ukraine. Both countries have been assured that applications for permits will be expedited so that the fighter jets can be delivered to Kiev as soon as the training of the Ukrainian pilots and technicians has been completed, a US State Department spokesman confirmed to the German Press Agency in Washington. “We appreciate that Denmark and the Netherlands are leading this coalition to train Ukrainian pilots,” it said.

Ukraine had previously stated that it would no longer expect the long-awaited F-16 jets this year. “It is obvious that we cannot defend Ukraine with F-16s this fall and winter,” Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat said on Ukrainian television. After all, it is progress that Ukrainian pilots and technicians could start training on the jets “in the near future”, Ihnat was quoted by the Ukrainian media as saying on Thursday night.

Denmark leads training coalition

A coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands formed within NATO in the summer to train Ukrainian pilots to use the F-16. The USA also agreed to this. It was said at the time that aircraft could also be sold later from stocks in the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark or Norway. The United States must authorize the handover of military jets from its allies to Ukraine because the machines are being built by US company Lockheed Martin and have sensitive technology on board. That’s why Washington has a say in who gets trained.

However, the promised training between those involved has not yet been organized. The current ground offensive by Ukrainian troops is suffering from the lack of air protection and is progressing less quickly than Kiev had hoped.

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