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UK, Netherlands are working to procure F-16 fighters for Ukraine

May 22, 2023 (by Lieven Dewitte) - There is an international fighter jet coalition being forged by the UK and the Netherlands at the Council of Europe summit in Iceland to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets.

Seven ANG F-16s sit on the ramp at Mirgorod AB, Ukraine on July 19th, 2011. The ANG was in Ukraine supporting Safe Skies 2011. [USAF photo by TSgt. Charles Vaughn]

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy has been asking the West to supply him with fighter jets to help his country’s war effort for some time. President Zelenskyy’s request had fallen on deaf ears.

Currently, an international alliance to supply Ukraine with jet fighters is being formed by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The two NATO allies reportedly tried to bring US-made jets to Ukraine as well as train Kyiv's pilots to fly them. The statement from the Prime Ministers of Britain and the Netherlands was warmly received by Ukraine, which has been arguing that the fighter jets are crucial to protect against Russian missile and drone threats.

A handful of European countries have a supply of US-made F-16s, including the Netherlands, which has signaled a willingness to export some of them to Ukraine.

Belgium, who also operates the F-16, is likely to join the coalition as it offers to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the F-16s lent to it is by other countries..Belgium would not be lending any of their own F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine as those are needed for the protection of the airspace above the Benelux and for NATO operation above the Baltic States.

He informed G7 leaders on Friday however that the US will support a joint effort with allies and partners to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth generation aircraft, including F-16s.

But CNN reported in March that the US is working with Ukrainian pilots in the United States to determine how long it would take to train them to fly F-16s.