The Netherlands will arm Ukraine with modern F-16 fighter jets to give it a combat edge.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Sunday that the Netherlands has 42 F-16s available in all, but it is too early to say whether all of them will be donated.
“Today we can announce that 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,” he said in a joint press conference with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy at a military air base in Eindhoven.
Zelenskyy welcomed the ‘’historic’’ announcement and praised Rutte for making the Netherlands the first country to offer the planes. The announcement came minutes after the two leaders inspected two gray F-16 jets parked in a hangar at the Dutch base in the southern city of Eindhoven.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said that Ukrainian pilots have begun training on F-16 aircraft.
“Training (on F-16) has begun,” Reznikov told Ukrainian media Saturday, adding that in addition to the pilots, a number of Ukrainian engineers and technicians are also training.
Reznikov said that he is not going to say when the last day of training will be but noted that “a minimal term of training is six months.”
He said the instructors would announce the completion of training when they were satisfied the pilots, engineers and technicians had mastered their new skills.