Ukraine Could Get More F-16 Fighters (But Could Take Years to Fly)

F-16
February 6, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-16F-16 Fighting FalconMilitaryAir ForceUkraineRussia

Ukraine Could Get More F-16 Fighters (But Could Take Years to Fly)

The Dutch government has pledged to send an additional six of its F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to Ukraine – canceling a planned sale of the aircraft to a private U.S. contractor.

Ukraine Could Receive Additional F-16 Fighting Falcons: The Dutch government has pledged to send an additional six of its F-16 Fighting Falcon jets to Ukraine – canceling a planned sale of the aircraft to a private U.S. contractor.

"The Netherlands Ministry of Defence is readying six additional F-16 fighter aircraft for delivery to Ukraine. This brings the total number to 24 F-16s. [Ukraine's] aerial superiority is essential for countering Russian aggression," Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren (@DefensieMin) announced via a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

The Dutch Ministry of Defense further announced that the planned sale of the six jets to the Florida-based private military aircraft operator Draken International had been canceled. That in turn allowed the government to make the extra pledge to Kyiv.

"The Netherlands has stopped discussions about the possible sale of 6 F-16 fighter aircraft," the ministry said in a statement. "Both parties have come to the conclusion that the sale and delivery of these F-16s will not take place in the short-term."

Draken International is a Lakeland, Florida-based provider of adversarial training services to the U.S. Air Force. The two parties ended talks on a new agreement for six F-16s after they concluded that the sale and delivery of the aircraft wouldn't happen in the short term. The Dutch government had agreed in 2021 to sell a full dozen F-16s to Draken for training use in the U.S., with an option for an additional 28 aircraft. The deal fell apart last summer over the issue of the state of maintenance of the jet fighters.

The Dutch fleet that once totaled 138 F-16s received a €750 million midlife update between 1998 and 2002 that increased capabilities to the equivalent of the Block 50/52 upgrade that first became operational with the U.S. Air Force in 1994, Defense News reported.

The Netherlands has adopted the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II to replace its current fleet of F-16s, and the ministry announced it would retire the last of its Fighting Falcons by October – citing that it will no longer have the capacity to maintain the aging jets.

More F-16s for Ukraine

The Netherlands and Denmark have led the European effort to provide Ukraine with the F-16 Fighting Falcon. In November, the Dutch military sent the first of 18 aircraft to Romania for pilot training. The planned transfer of jets is meant to replace the aircraft losses Ukraine has suffered in its nearly two-year-long war with Russia, as well as provide Kyiv with more powerful radar and integration with NATO-standard weapon systems.

The Dutch government has called for a number of conditions that Kyiv must meet before the F-16s are handed over. That includes having airfields suitable to operate the fighter and sufficiently trained personnel for maintenance.

F-16 Fighter

The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multi-role fighter jet capable of both air combat and air-to-ground operations. With the ability to reach 1,500 miles per hour and an operational ceiling of 50,000 feet, the F-16 fighter jet can make a difference on the battlefield based on its agility, sensors, and munitions. However, as previously reported, it could still be months – perhaps even years – before Ukraine receives the aircraft.

F-16 Fighting Falcon Fighter

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

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. You can email the author: [email protected].