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Ukraine conflict: NATO establishes fast jet training coalition for Ukraine

Norway is one of the 10 European countries that will train Ukrainian pilots and maintainers on the F-16 initially, and potentially other combat aircraft types in the future also. (Janes/Patrick Allen)

NATO has established a coalition of 10 European member and soon-to-be member states to train Ukrainian pilots and maintainers to operate the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon and potentially other combat aircraft types.

Announced at the 2023 NATO Vilnius Summit in Lithuania, the coalition comprises NATO members Belgium, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and the United Kingdom, with soon-to-be member state Sweden also included.

β€œ The parties agree that in order to assist Ukraine in the defence of its airspace, they will establish a joint coalition on training of the Ukrainian Air Force in operating and maintaining F-16 fighter aircraft, in accordance with the necessary authorisations and with the possibility to include other types of fighter aircraft at a later stage,” the countries said in a joint communique issued on 11 July. β€œThe coalition's focus will be on training, but will also in due course be ready to consider other lines of effort related to ensuring Ukraine a fully functional F-16 capability,” the joint communique added.

News of the training coalition came weeks after Denmark's Minister for Economic Affairs Troels Lund Poulsen said a decision by the Danish government to bring forward the retirement of the F-16 in Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) service by two years to 2025 had paved the way for Ukrainian crews to be trained on the type in Denmark. Poulsen's comments came about a month after US President Joe Biden said in May he would allow the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine following repeated calls from the country's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

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