The Netherlands mulls sending F-16s to Ukraine


27th May 2023 – (The Hague) The Netherlands is “seriously considering” sending its F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine but has not yet made a final decision, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced on Friday, 26th May.

Earlier this week, the Netherlands expressed its desire to start training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s as soon as possible.

At a news conference, Rutte stated that while no final decision had been made, “if you start training it’s obvious that is something you are seriously considering.” However, the deployment of F-16s is subject to US approval. Rutte also noted that the Netherlands would potentially have fighter jets to pass on as it was currently phasing out its F-16s.

The Dutch defense ministry reported that the Netherlands currently has 24 operational F-16s that will be phased out by mid-2024. Another 18 of the jets are currently available for sale, of which 12 have been provisionally sold.

Last Friday, US President Joe Biden endorsed training programs for Ukrainian pilots on F-16s. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, in turn, assured Biden that the planes would not be used to cross into Russian territory.

The West has expressed its desire to support Ukraine in its struggle against Russia but has repeatedly emphasised that it does not want to trigger a direct confrontation between the US-backed NATO military alliance and Russia.