F-16 Fighting Falcons Heading to Ukraine – Will it Escalate the War or Bring Victory for Kyiv?: NATO alliance members Denmark and the Netherlands announced on Sunday that they would a combined 61 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to Ukraine after pilot training has been satisfactorily completed.
The news that the two nations would supply the jets came as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was visiting the Netherlands. He called it a “breakthrough agreement” from Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
Last week, the Biden administration gave the final approval for delivering Dutch and Danish F-16s.
“The Netherlands and Denmark commit to the transfer of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine and the Ukrainian Air Force, including cooperation with the United States and other partners once the conditions for such a transfer have been met,” Rutte said at a joint press conference with Zelenskyy at a military air base in Eindhoven.
To meet the conditions for the F-16 transfers, Ukrainian pilots will first have to undertake at least six months of training on the aircraft, as part of the terms set by the U.S., Politico.com reported.
Danish Defence Minister Jakob Ellemann-Jensen said Ukraine may only use the donated F-16 jet fighters within its own territory.
“We donate weapons under the condition that they are used to drive the enemy out of the territory of Ukraine. And no further than that,” Ellemann-Jensen said on Monday. “Those are the conditions, whether it’s tanks, fighter planes or something else.”
Copenhagen will deliver 19 jets to Ukraine; while the Hague has 42 F-16s available in all – yet has yet to decide whether all of them will be donated.
The F-16 is a single-engine, multirole jet aircraft that can be employed in air-to-air and ground-attack missions.
The F-16 Fighting Falcon is “Easy” To Fly
American military pilots typically receive about a year of training, U.S. Air Force Capt. David ‘Spicy’ Brown, an F-16 pilot, told the Associated Press at the Paris Air Show on Monday.
“This jet is incredibly easy to fly,” said Brown, a military pilot instructor stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany and with more than 1,000 hours of flight time. “It’s all of the other stuff that goes along with the flying.”
He added that “You don’t have to worry about it going out of control. The main thing is being able to work the sensors, being able to work your radar [and the other systems of the jet.]”
Moscow reacted quickly to the news that two NATO countries have already committed to supplying Kyiv with the Fighting Falcon and suggested it could “escalate” the conflict considerably.
“The fact that Denmark has now decided to donate 19 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine leads to an escalation of the conflict,” Russian ambassador Vladimir Barbin said in a statement cited by the Ritzau news agency, per Reuters.
“By hiding behind a premise that Ukraine itself must determine the conditions for peace, Denmark seeks with its actions and words to leave Ukraine with no other choice but to continue the military confrontation with Russia,” Barbin added.
Kyiv has pleaded for the F-16 and other Western-made combat aircraft to help it in its war effort against Russia. Ukrainian pilots have been training on the Fighting Falcon and the Swedish JAS 39 Gripen multirole fighter since this spring. That has left the door open for the future transfer of the aircraft – and at this point, it is likely just a matter of time until the Fighting Falcon and Gripen are actually flying over the skies of Ukraine.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.
From the Vault