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Ukraine conflict: Ukraine to field first F-16s ‘this summer'

Denmark will send the first of its F-16s to Ukraine in the third quarter of 2024. (Royal Danish Air Force)

Ukraine is to field the first of its promised Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft “this summer”, the Danish Ministry of Defence (MoD) said on 22 February.

In a release updating the progress of the ‘F-16 coalition' of which it is a member, Denmark said that work to prepare the first former Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) aircraft is now under way, with their transfer to Ukraine expected in the third quarter (Q3) of 2024.

“Work is under way to prepare Ukraine to receive the first Danish donation of F-16 fighter jets this summer. This is stated by the international [F-16] coalition, which Denmark heads together with the Netherlands and the United States,” the Danish MoD said.

As noted in the announcement, a precise timeline for the transfer cannot yet be given, as there are still several conditions that must be met in order for Ukraine to use the donated aircraft. “The final handover of the first Danish F-16 fighter jets depends, among other things, on the Ukrainian pilots and the necessary Ukrainian support personnel having graduated, as well as on the necessary logistics and infrastructure being in place in Ukraine,” the ministry said.

Denmark is donating 19 of its 40 F-16AM/BM Block 15 mid-life upgrade (MLU) aircraft to Ukraine. Belgium is sending an indeterminate number of its 53 F-16AM/BM Block 15 MLUs, as is Norway which has 25 remaining F-16AM/BM Block 15 MLUs. The Netherlands has said it is sending 24 of its 42 F-16AM/BM Block 15 MLUs to Ukraine, with more potentially to follow.

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