Ukraine will have F-16 fighters flying ‘this summer,’ Biden says

By The Independent (World News) | Created at 2024-07-10 13:45:38 | Updated at 2024-07-21 18:43:00 1 week ago


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Ukrainian Air Force pilots will soon be taking to the skies in US-made F-16 fighter aircraft provided by the Dutch and Danish governments in a multinational effort to bolster Kyiv’s air defense capabilities this summer.

In a joint statement issued with Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Biden said The Netherlands and Denmark are “in the process” of donating from their stocks of F-16 jets “with the support of the United States.”

“The transfer process for these F-16s is now underway, and Ukraine will be flying operational F-16s this summer,” the leaders said, adding that the exact timing of when those jets would first be patrolling Ukrainian airspace won’t be provided on account of security concerns.

Biden and the other two heads of government also said Belgium and Norway would soon be providing Ukraine with F-16 jets from their own stocks, and promised that Kyiv would be able to field “squadrons” of the US-made fourth-generation fighters.

They added that the multinational Air Force Capability Coalition for Ukraine intends to support “sustainment and armament” of the Ukrainian F-16 supplies, plus “further associated training for pilots to enhance operational efforts.”

The announcement of Ukraine’s impending receipt of the long-awaited jets — fulfilling a long-held wish of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky — comes less than 24 hours after Biden announced plans for the US and other partner nations to provide Kyiv with five “strategic air defense systems” and “dozens” of “tactical air defense systems” in the coming months to counter new waves of Russian air attacks.

“All told, Ukraine will receive hundreds of additional interceptors over the next year, helping protect Ukrainian cities against Russian missile Ukrainian troops facing their attacks on the front line,” he said while speaking to an assembly that included the 31 other NATO heads of state and government at an event to mark the start of the alliance’s annual summit in Washington.

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