Ukraine Is Getting 30 More F-16 Fighter Jets to Battle Russia in the Sky

F-16 Fighter from U.S. Air Force
May 31, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-16F-16 Fighting FalconMilitaryDefenseU.S. Air ForceUkraine

Ukraine Is Getting 30 More F-16 Fighter Jets to Battle Russia in the Sky

Belgium has agreed to supply up to 30 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to Ukraine over the next few years to aid in its defense against Russian aggression.


Summary: Belgium has agreed to supply up to 30 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to Ukraine over the next few years to aid in its defense against Russian aggression.



More F-16 Fighters for Ukraine - Key Points 

-This pledge, alongside commitments from other countries, brings the total number of F-16s promised to Ukraine to around 115.

-However, delivery timelines are influenced by factors such as pilot training and the readiness of replacement F-35 jets for donor countries.

-The F-16s will significantly enhance the Ukrainian Air Force's capabilities, potentially allowing it to contest air superiority and conduct more effective air-to-ground missions against Russian -forces.

Belgium Commits 30 F-16s to Ukraine: Strengthening Defense Against Russia

Belgium has agreed to provide several F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets to Ukraine in an effort to help the embattled nation defeat Russia’s unprovoked aggression.

After months of deliberations, Brussels agreed to provide up to 30 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine over the next few years.

More F-16 Fighting Falcons for Ukraine

A number of countries have committed to provide Ukraine with several F-16 fighter jets—although the number has been fluctuating, right now it hovers at around 115 aircraft with the latest pledge. Specifically, the Netherlands has committed up to 42 fighter jets, Belgium 30, Norway 22, and Denmark 19. However, the timeline for each delivery depends on many factors, including training of the Ukrainian pilots and restoring older aircraft.

In a recent interview with the French news agency AFP, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated a need for up to 130 F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets in order for the Ukrainian Air Force to be competitive.

However, delays in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program might make it harder for countries to commit or deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. No country wishes to weaken its military deterrence without ensuring that it can replace its capabilities. All of the countries that have committed to providing F-16 Fighting Falcons to Ukraine are or will be users of the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jet. So, the sooner they receive their brand new fifth-generation fighter jets, the faster they will send Ukraine their older F-16s.

“Belgium will do everything possible, in consultation with its allies and partners of the F-16 coalition, to accelerate the first delivery, if possible before the end of 2024, without endangering its security and the operationally of its air capacity and taking into account the delivery of the F-35s to the Belgian Air Component and subsequent decommissioning of the F-16s,” the Ukraine-Belgian agreement on the delivery of F-16s states.


Currently, the F-35 Program has ceased deliveries, and the Pentagon has stopped accepting new F-35 Lightning IIs of any version because of ongoing issues with the TR-3 software upgrade.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon will revolutionize the capabilities of the Ukrainian Air Force. Right, Kyiv relies on a combinations of older Soviet- and Russian-made aircraft, some of which have been modified to carry Western munitions, such as the Storm Shadow cruise missile, AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile, and the SCALP-EG cruise missile.

In conjunction with Ukraine’s considerable air defenses, the Ukrainian Air Force has largely contained Russian combat aviation from most parts of the country, forcing Russian pilots to use stand-off munitions from afar. However, the Ukrainian Air Force has failed to establish air superiority due to a numerical and qualitative inferiority compared to the Russian Aerospace Forces. The incoming F-16 fighter jets—with properly trained pilots, adequate munitions, and the necessary logistical support—will allow the Ukrainian Air Force to be more aggressive over the battlefield and start contesting the skies near the frontline. If it is successful in doing so, it would open the road for tactical air-to-ground missions, which could swing the war toward Kyiv’s side.

About the Author: 

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 and an MA from the Johns Hopkins’ School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.

All images are from Creative Commons. 

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