Belgium may deliver several F-16 jets to Ukraine next year
Next year, Belgium, which has begun a gradual upgrade of its air force fleet, may supply 2 to 4 F-16 aircraft to Ukraine, but the final decision on this will be made by the federal government
This is reported by the Belgian publication VRT.
The liberal Deputy Prime Minister in Belgium’s Federal Government David Clarinval has said in an interview with the Francophone commercial broadcaster RTL that Belgium could hand over between 2 and 4 F-16 fighter jet to Ukraine next year. Previously, the Belgian Defense Ministry had said that it would not be possible to supply aircraft to Ukraine, as they were required for the defense of Belgian airspace and for NATO missions on the EU's eastern border in the Baltic States," the publication said.
According to the publication, the Belgian Air Force currently has 45 F-16 military aircraft. All of them will reach the end of their service life within the next 5-6 years and will be decommissioned. Starting next year, Belgium will start receiving 4-5 new F-35 fighters annually, which should gradually replace the F-16s.
"This means that F-16s that still have flight hours left, will gradually become available. Handing them over to Ukraine is certainly an option. However, any decision to do so would have to be taken by Belgium’s Federal Government," the publication notes.
F-16 fighters for Ukraine
On May 21, US President Joe Biden approved the training of Ukrainians on F-16s. Volodymyr Zelenskyy assured that Ukraine would not use these aircraft to strike at Russian territory.
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba says that the first F-16 fighter jets are likely to fly in Ukraine's skies by the end of March 2024.
On August 17, the United States approved the shipment of F-16 multi-role fighters to Ukraine.
At the same time, Denmark said it would supply Ukraine with the aircraft if they were not used in Russia.
The Netherlands will provide 42 fighter jets. At the same time, Norway will provide Ukraine with F-16s, but the exact number is unknown.On September 15, Belgium joined the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s. Earlier, the Belgian Defense Ministry said it would not provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters because they are outdated and in poor condition. Such aircraft are dangerous to operate.