Netherlands deploy first F-16s to Romania to train pilots from Ukraine
Five Dutch F-16 fighter jets will depart for Romania on 7 November, where a training centre for Ukrainian and Romanian pilots will soon open at the Fetești air base.
This was reported by the Dutch Ministry of Defence.
According to the ministry's website, the Netherlands initiated the creation of the centre and provided 12 to 18 F-16 fighters for this purpose. The aircraft remain the property of the Netherlands.
"Together with Denmark and with the support of the United States, the Netherlands is responsible for coordinating European efforts to build F-16 capability for Ukraine," the statement said.
Earlier it was announced that Lockheed Martin would provide training and maintenance of the aircraft.
The training centre in Romania will first use the aircraft to train hired F-16 instructors. Then the pilots will be trained.
"The grand opening of the training centre will take place soon," the Ministry of Defence said.
What is known about the transfer of F-16 to Ukraine
On May 16, the leaders of the UK and the Netherlands, Rishi Sunak and Mark Rutte, agreed to create a coalition of fighter jets for Ukraine. In return, the head of the Bundestag Defense Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, said that Germany would not provide Ukraine with its own fighter jets.
The Pentagon is convinced that the transfer of F-16s to Ukraine will take several months.
The coalition to train the Ukrainian Armed Forces on F-16s will be led by Denmark and the Netherlands, and will include four other countries.
On May 20, the Defense Ministry announced that Ukraine hopes to receive the first modern American F-16 fighters in the fall of 2023. The country needs 40-50 aircraft in total.
On May 23, it was reported that Germany was considering options to support a coalition of countries that plan to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighter jets.
On May 29, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the country was ready to support Ukraine as long as necessary, including by strengthening air defense and training F-16 pilots.
On June 2, US President Joe Biden said that the United States and its partners would work together to train Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter jets, including the F-16.
On June 5, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced that the Defense Forces will not use F-16 fighter jets during the counteroffensive that is to begin this summer.
Also on June 5, the German government considered revising its position on the supply of Western fighter jets to Ukraine. The final decision will be made within the next two weeks.
On June 15, NATO announced that the allies had already begun training Ukrainian pilots on Western F-16 fighter jets, while the Ukrainian Air Force said that the training was in the preparation phase.
On June 20, the US arms company Lockheed Martin agreed to help Ukrainian pilots and technicians train and maintain its F-16 fighter jets.