The Dutch government intends to provide Ukraine with its initial batch of F-16 fighter jets by 2024, according to Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren’s statement on Tuesday.
Prior to the jets being shipped, Ollengren mentioned in an interview with MSNBC that the pilots, crew, and technicians must undergo training to operate and engage in combat using the jets. She did not provide a specific timeline for the training, but approximated it to be around six to eight months.
Ollengren stated that these matters require patience. She emphasized the significance of the message we are conveying, not only to Kyiv but also to Moscow and the Kremlin, which is that we are present and involved.
The governments of the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway have all declared their intention to supply Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets. This decision was made possible by approval from the U.S., which will also provide training for Ukrainian pilots. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has praised this move after months of urging Western nations to equip his military with advanced jets to defend against Russia’s invasion.
Ollongren said Tuesday the Netherlands is transitioning to F-35s, which is why it is finally able to give Ukraine the F-16s. And while the F-16s alone will not “make Ukraine win the war,” they will help Ukraine’s air defense.
She praised the weapons system, emphasizing the importance of obtaining it.
Ollengren added that a pilot training facility in Romania should be operational at the earliest opportunity.
In August, Denmark began training eight Ukrainian pilots to operate the jets, and the United States announced that their training would begin in October, following completion of English language training for the pilots.