Netherlands Stops F-16 Sale to U.S. Firm, Pledges Fighters to Ukraine

The Dutch government says it will now send two dozen fighter jets to bolster the war-torn country’s air force.

With the pledge of additional fighters, The Netherlands is preparing 24 F-16s to send to Ukraine’s air force, it said. [Courtesy: The Netherlands Ministry of Defense]

The Netherlands is preparing six additional F-16 Fighting Falcons to send to Ukraine's air force in support of the country's ongoing fight against Russia, increasing its delivery to two dozen fighter jets, Dutch officials said Monday.

The aircraft are in addition to 18 Dutch fighters intended for the European F-16 Training Center (EFTC) that opened in November to train Ukrainian and Romanian pilots.

"The Netherlands Ministry of Defence is readying 6 additional F-16 fighter aircraft for delivery to Ukraine," Kajsa Ollongren, defense minister of the Netherlands, said Monday in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. "This brings the total number to 24 F-16s. [Ukraine's] aerial superiority is essential for countering Russian aggression."

The move to send the F-16s to Ukraine comes as a result of the Netherlands' recent fleet modernization to more advanced fighters.

"For years, the F-16 formed the most important part of the Royal Netherlands Air Force's strike force. This role has now been taken over by the F-35. All F-16s are disposed of," defense officials said in a statement.

According to the Dutch defense ministry, the Netherlands had been in discussion to sell the six fighters to Draken International, a Lakeland, Florida- based aerospace and defense company, but had withdrawn the aircraft from sale.

"The Netherlands had made agreements with the international company in 2021 for the sale of 12 F-16s,” the Dutch Defense Ministry said in a statement Monday. “With these aircraft, Draken would expand its own fleet with fourth-generation aircraft. The company wants to compete for orders and tenders. However, this sale did not go through, after which the Netherlands offered Draken the opportunity to purchase six F-16s in the future. This would happen under conditions yet to be determined. Now that the talks with Draken have ended, this is no longer the case."

In August, Denmark pledged to send 19 F-16s to Ukraine in three batches that would be fully delivered in 2025.

Two Norwegian F-16s will also soon be sent to Denmark for Ukrainian fighter pilot training, Bjørn Arild Gram, Norway’s defense minister, said last month.

Kimberly is managing editor of FLYING Digital.

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