5 Dutch F-16s Positioned for Ukrainian Pilot Training

The fighter jets arrived at a flight training center in Romania, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed.

An Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon departs from the 86th Air Base, Romania, September 23, 2023, in support of NATOs enhanced air policing capabilities. [Courtesy: DOD]

Five Dutch F-16 fighter jets pledged to Ukraine have arrived at a flight training facility in Romania this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed Tuesday.

The aircraft are among those pledged by the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway to bolster Ukraine's military, which has long campaigned for access to the fighter jets following Russia's 2022 invasion.

The Netherlands have pledged to provide 12 to 18 F-16s for flight training, with the stipulation that they only be flown in NATO territory, The Kyiv Independent reported. The aircraft remain the property of The Netherlands.

"I’m grateful to the Netherlands and @MinPres Mark Rutte [prime minister of the Netherlands] for leading the way in supporting Ukraine," Zelenskyy said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Today marks a milestone: five Dutch F-16s have already arrived at the training center in Romania. We keep working together to welcome F-16s into Ukrainian skies as soon as possible."

Kajsa Ollongren, defense minister of the Netherlands, said Tuesday that the fighter jets had departed and were headed to the Romanian Air Force 86th Air Base near Fetești, Romania.

"The #F16 training centre to train pilots from both NATO countries and Ukraine will open soon," Ollongren said in a post on X.

Ukrainian fighter pilots, including a group in the U.S. training with the Arizona Air National Guard, are preparing to operate the aircraft. The U.S. Department of Defense estimates that it will take five to nine months to fully train Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly the F-16.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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