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Ukraine conflict: Belgium joins Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands in promising F-16s to Kyiv

Belgium is the latest European NATO country to offer F-16s to Ukraine, after Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands. (Belgian Ministry of Defence)

Belgium has joined Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands in pledging the transfer of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft to Kyiv.

Belgian Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder and Ukrainian Minister of Defence Rustem Umerov made the disclosure in a joint communiqué released on 11 October.

“From 2025, the [Belgian] Minister of Defence will be able to offer to supply F-16s to the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as part of the process of replacing the Belgian F-16 fleet with [Lockheed Martin] F-35 fighter planes,” the communiqué drafted on the sidelines of ministerial meetings at NATO headquarters in Brussels said.

As noted by the ministers, the announcement was part of a wider raft of Belgian F-16 support measures for Ukraine as part of the wider ‘jet coalition' previously founded by European NATO members. Increased Belgian involvement will see the training of pilots and mission planners from 2024 (in addition to the ground technicians already being trained), and Belgian companies Sabena Engineering and Patria BEC providing industrial support for F-16s in Ukrainian service.

The Belgian Air Component (BAC) has 44 F-16AM single-seat and nine F-16BM twin-seat aircraft Block 15 mid-life upgrade (MLU) airframes in its inventory, which it will shortly retire in favour of the F-35A.

Belgium's offer of F-16s follows similar pledges made by Denmark, Norway, and the Netherlands. All four countries field the same standard of F-16, which provides an analogous capability to the US Air Force's F-16C/D Block 50/52 aircraft. This includes the carriage of the latest AIM-9 and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, as well as the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), the Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM), and other air-to-surface munitions.

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