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Netherlands withdraws F-16s from sale to Draken International, freeing up jets for Ukraine

February 8, 2024 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Netherlands ends negotiations to sell six F-16 fighter planes to Draken International. Both parties have come to the conclusion that sale and delivery of these F-16s is not going to happen anytime soon.

RNlAF F-16B block 15 # J-885 seen during a familyday at the Fokker factory before delivery in May of 1985. [Photo Ed Groenendijk]

The Dutch had agreed in 2021 to sell 12 F-16s to Draken for training use in the U.S., with an option for another 28 aircraft.

Draken would use these aircraft to expand its own fleet with fourth-generation aircraft. With these, the company wanted to compete for contracts and tenders. That deal fell apart however, following a “disagreement on the state of maintenance” of the jets at time of handover.

After that, the Netherlands offered Draken the opportunity to still buy six F-16s in the future. This would happen under conditions yet to be determined. This is no longer a problem as the talks with Draken have come to a conclusion.

Those six aircraft will now be added to the 18 F-16s prepared for delivery to Ukraine. This increases the number of Dutch aircraft that will be handed over to Ukraine to 24.

The other 18 aircraft are destined for a Romanian F-16 training facility and will remain property of the Netherlands.Of those aircraft, five are already in Romania, with the remainder to follow by the end of June.

For many years, the F-16 was the mainstay of the Royal Air Force's strike force. Their fleet once totaled 138 F-16s which received a €750 million midlife update between 1998 and 2002 that increased capabilities to equivalent of the Block 50/52 upgrade.

The role of the F-16 has now been taken over by the F-35. All F-16s are being sold off. The F-16s being prepared for handover to Ukraine are still in use by the Netherlands Royal Air Force.

Additional images:

RNlAF F-16A block 15 #J-878 is taking off for a pre-delivery test flight from Schiphol AP on April 10th, 1985. [Photo by Ab Gobets]

RNlAF F-16AM #J-631is spotted during take-off at Payerne AB on July 9th, 2014 during the annual air show. [Photo by Erik Frikke]

RNlAF F-16AM #J-637 from 312 sqn in take off during the Tigermeet at Volkel AB on October 13th, 2010. [Photo by Maurits Even]