In a move that has the potential to change the course of the war, the Netherlands and Denmark have agreed to provide dozens of F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to the Ukrainian military.
With the addition of the U.S.-made fighter jet, the Ukrainian Air Force has all the potential to establish air superiority over the battlefield.
Ukraine Is Getting F-16 Fighter Jets
This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went on a mini diplomatic tour around Europe. His back-to-back visits to the Netherlands and Denmark turned up gold.
The negotiations for the transfer are still ongoing, but the two northern European countries have committed to providing Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets for the Ukrainian military after an appropriate number of pilots and engineers have been trained on the platform.
“I would rather not talk about the number (of aircraft – ed.), [Dutch Prime Minister] Mark [Rutte] said that we are discussing the number of 42, but we are going to have a conversation with our colleagues from Denmark as well. As Mark said, it is a joint decision on providing the aircraft. I think it will be fair to talk about the number a little later,” Zelensky said in an address to the Ukrainian people.
As the manufacturer of the fighter jet, the U.S. has given the green light for the transfer of the F-16s.
“We have agreed on the transfer of 19 F-16 jets by Denmark. This is a very powerful support for us. Training missions are already starting. Today, we have talked to our men and women who are studying and will work with F-16s here and then in our skies,” Zelensky added.
But Zelensky also visited Greece and got a sweet deal out of it. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis offered the services of the Hellenic Air Force in training Ukrainian pilots on the F-16 fighter jet.
Constantly ranked as some of the best pilots in NATO, Greek pilots will be able to provide realistic, high-intensity training to their Ukrainian counterparts.
The Netherlands has been a leading member of the Western coalition to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression. In 2022, Amsterdam committed $1 billion to security aid for Ukraine, and for 2023, it has promised $2.5 billion. It might seem odd for the small northwestern European country to be playing such an important part in the international effort to support Ukraine, but there is a very good reason.
Back in 2014, pro-Russian separatist forces, with the direct support of the Russian military, shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over the Donbas.
The airliner was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, carrying almost 300 passengers and crew.
The Russian forces used a Buk ground-to-air missile to shoot down the aircraft, killing everyone on board. The subsequent investigation showed that the Kremlin had an important role in the shooting down of the airliner.
Ever since, the Dutch have been looking for revenge. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine gave Amsterdam the opportunity it was looking for.
A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations and a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ). He holds a BA from the Johns Hopkins University, an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), and is pursuing a J.D. at Boston College Law School. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.