10:12 11 Oct 2023

United to win: Belgium to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Photo: Facebook/Diplomatie.Belgium

Belgium will send several F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in 2025.

"We are giving Ukraine the opportunity to modernize its Armed Forces," the country's defense minister, Ludivine Dedonder, said on Bel RTL TV. "I think that what we are proposing here is fundamental and much better than a simple announcement on sending a few F-16s." 

The minister did not specify how many jets Ukraine will receive but only said that the number depends on Belgium's increasing army capabilities with new F-35 jets.

In addition to sending fighter jets, Belgium will continue training Ukrainian pilots and offer to maintain the entire coalition F-16 fleet.

According to Dedonder, the Belgian military will train Ukrainian pilots in Belgium, Denmark, and probably in one of the countries of the European Union.

The Belgian Air Force has 45 F-16 fighters, reaching the end of their service life within the next 5-6 years when they must be decommissioned. As early as 2024, the Belgian Air Force will receive 4 to 5 new F-35 fighters annually, gradually replacing the F-16.

What we know about F-16 fighter pilot training

Many European countries have agreed to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets as part of the jet coalition. By July, the partners planned to approve the training program for Ukrainian pilots, engineers, and technicians on F-16 fighter jets. The training is expected to take place in a specially designated center in one of the European countries.

After President Volodymyr Zelensky's visits to the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway, the nations announced that they would provide Ukraine with at least 61 fighter jets. Ukraine will receive 42 American-made F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands and 19 planes from Denmark. Training of Ukrainian pilots will begin as soon as possible.

Earlier, Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat reported that Ukraine needs about 128 jets to gain superiority in the sky and replace the old aircraft fleet. Ukraine's defense ministry said that Ukraine could receive the first F-16 jets no earlier than in 6-7 months.

In September, the Pentagon is set to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets in the United States. First, they learn English and then begin flight training on aircraft.

In mid-September, the Air Force spokesperson, Yurii Ihnat, said that training Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets had moved from a standstill and "gained momentum."

In late September, the Air Force released a video about how pilots adapt to the F-16 in Ukraine. They master the control of American F-16 fighter jets with the help of a flight simulator.


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