US approves sending F-16s to Ukraine from Denmark and Netherlands

Netherlands’ Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly throughout a media day illustrating how NATO Air Policing safeguards the Allies’ airspace within the northern and northeastern area of the Alliance, July 4, 2023. REUTERS/Piroschka van de Wouw/File Photo Acquire Licensing Rights

WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (Reuters) – The United States has authorized sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands to defend in opposition to Russian invaders as quickly as pilot coaching is accomplished, a U.S. official stated on Thursday.

Ukraine has actively sought the U.S.-made F-16 fighter jets to assist it counter Russian air superiority.

Washington gave Denmark and the Netherlands official assurances that the United States will expedite approval of switch requests for F-16s to go to Ukraine when the pilots are skilled, the official stated.

“We welcome Washington’s decision to pave the way for sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine,” Dutch Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra stated on messaging platform X, previously referred to as Twitter.

“Now, we will further discuss the subject with our European partners.”

Denmark additionally stated offering Ukraine with the jets would now be mentioned.

“The government has said several times that a donation is a natural next step after training. We are discussing it with close allies, and I expect we will soon be able to be more concrete about that,” Danish defence minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen advised information company Ritzau on Friday.

A coalition of 11 international locations was due to begin coaching Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16 fighter jets this month in Denmark. Denmark’s performing Defense Minister Troels Poulsen stated in July that the nation hoped to see “results” from the coaching in early 2024.

NATO members Denmark and the Netherlands have been main worldwide efforts to prepare pilots in addition to help workers, keep plane and in the end allow Ukraine to receive F-16s to be used in its struggle with Russia.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in May stated the Netherlands was severely contemplating offering Ukraine with F-16’s, as it’s at the moment phasing out the fighter jets from its personal armed forces.

According to figures from the Dutch defence ministry the Netherlands at the moment has 24 operational F-16’s which will probably be phased out by mid-2024. Another 18 of the jets are at the moment out there on the market, of which 12 have been provisionally offered.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken despatched letters to his Danish and Dutch counterparts assuring them that the requests could be authorized, the U.S. official stated.

“I am writing to express the United States’ full support for both the transfer of F-16 fighter aircraft to Ukraine and for the training of Ukrainian pilots by qualified F-16 instructors,” Blinken stated in a letter to the 2 officers, a duplicate of which was seen by Reuters.

Blinken stated, “It remains critical that Ukraine is able to defend itself against ongoing Russian aggression and violation of its sovereignty.”

He stated the approval of the requests would enable Ukraine to take “full advantage of its new capabilities as soon as the first set of pilots complete their training.”

U.S. President Joe Biden endorsed coaching packages for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s in May. In addition to coaching in Denmark, a coaching heart was to be arrange in Romania.

Kyiv won’t be able to function U.S.-built F-16 fighter jets this coming autumn and winter, Ukraine air pressure spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat advised Ukrainian tv late on Wednesday.

U.S. officers have privately stated that F-16 jets would have been of little assist to Ukraine in its present counteroffensive and won’t be a sport changer once they ultimately arrive given Russian air protection methods and contested skies over Ukraine.

The F-16 is made by Lockheed Martin (LMT.N).

Reporting By Steve Holland; further reporting by Idrees Ali and Bart Meijer, Louise Rasmussen in Copenhagen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Toby Chopra

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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National safety correspondent specializing in the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Reports on U.S. army exercise and operations all through the world and the affect that they’ve. Has reported from over two dozen international locations to embrace Iraq, Afghanistan, and a lot of the Middle East, Asia and Europe. From Karachi, Pakistan.

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