Norway is the latest NATO alliance member to pledge to send U.S.-made F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft to Ukraine. The announcement was made on Thursday as Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere visited Kyiv, and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Norway is the third nation after Denmark and the Netherlands to announce it would send a number of fourth-generation multirole fighters to help Ukraine in its war against Russia.
“We are planning to donate Norwegian F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, and will provide further details about the donation, numbers and time frame for delivery, in due course,” Stoere said in a statement.
Last year, Norway retired its fleet of 57 F-16s as it adopted the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II – and later sold 32 of its Fighting Falcons to NATO ally Romania. Though 13 of the aircraft are reportedly beyond the ability to be repaired and could end up in museums, used for spare parts, or scrapped; the remaining dozen of the aircraft were due to be sold to a private company that provides training to the United States Air Force, and some aviation experts have suggested those fighters could be well suited for Ukraine.
The F-16 has been widely operated by several NATO members, which would make supplying Kyiv with spare parts easier than the Russian aircraft currently used by Ukraine.
“The donation of these F-16 jets will significantly strengthen Ukraine’s military capabilities,” Norway’s Defence Minister Bjoern Arild Gram said in the statement.
U.S. Will Provide F-16 Training
The United States Department of Defense (DoD) also announced on Thursday that it will soon begin training Ukrainians to fly and maintain F-16 fighter aircraft in support of the international effort to develop and strengthen Ukraine’s long-term defenses.
“Following English language training for pilots in September, F-16 flying training is expected to begin in October at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, facilitated by the Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing. Although we do not have specific numbers to share at this time in regards to how many Ukrainians will participate in this training, we do anticipate it will include several pilots and dozens of maintainers,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder.
“The training provided by the United States will complement the F-16 pilot and maintenance training that’s already underway in Europe and further deepens our support for the F-16 Training Coalition led by Denmark and the Netherlands,” Ryder added. “Moving forward, we will remain in close consultation with the Danes, the Dutch and other allies to ensure U.S. training complements the broader coalition training effort.”
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov predicted earlier this week that it would take six to seven months before F-16s were sent to Ukraine, The New York Times reported, adding that the aircraft will not play a role in Ukraine’s current counteroffensive.
The initial training won’t see the pilots in the cockpit, however. The aviators and flight engineers will first undergo English language training.
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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.
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