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EU F-16 is leaving for Ukraine, ‘we’ll not wait any longer’

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The Netherlands is set to begin supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine immediately, Foreign Minister Caspar Veldkamp announced during his visit to Kyiv. Ukraine hopes these American-made jets will enhance its defense against daily Russian bombings, protecting both soldiers and cities.

Dutch F-16s will break the sound barrier with control flights
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald

In his first international trip since taking office, Veldkamp assured that with export licenses approved last week, the Netherlands is now prepared to send these aircraft to Ukraine. “Now that we have the green light for the first F-16s, we promise prompt delivery,” the minister confirmed on Saturday during a press conference in Kyiv. For security reasons, details of his trip remained confidential until Sunday.

The precise date

32 Romanian F-16s will receive TTP 'Friend and Foe' integration
Photo credit: RNAF

Although the exact timeline for the arrival of the 24 F-16s promised to Ukraine by the Netherlands remains unclear, the new coalition government, dominated by Geert Wilders’ far-right Party for Freedom [PVV], has emphasized its continued support for Ukraine. This unwavering backing comes amid ongoing defense efforts.

Following Russia’s invasion in February 2022, Ukraine quickly called for F-16 fighter jets. Ukrainian pilots have since undergone extensive training in NATO countries. NATO members, including Belgium, have committed to sending these advanced aircraft, renowned for their precision, speed, and range. In a May interview with AFP, President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed that Ukraine needs around 130 F-16s to match Russia’s air power.

Despite these requests, Western allies have so far promised less than 100 aircraft. Meanwhile, Russia has issued warnings that it will target any Western military assets, including the F-16 jets, that are sent to support Ukraine.

In Norway, 12 deeply modernized combat-ready F-16s are aging
Photo by Eirik Helland Urke

The Russians expect them

A video from the Russian outlet Zvezda News, or Star News in English, has surfaced online. In the clip, a Russian soldier shares insights with a reporter about the anticipated arrival of American-made F-16 fighter jets in Ukraine. These jets are expected to significantly boost the combat capabilities of Ukrainian aviation.

Sitting casually around a table, sipping tea, the Russian reporter initiates the discussion about the new development. “Everyone is anxious about the appearance of F-16s in Ukraine,” the journalist comments. The soldier nods and responds, “Yes, the F-16s will show up, and they will certainly become a new target for us.” He continues confidently, “Yes, they will appear, but so what? We are not afraid; in fact, we are looking forward to it.” 

Russian pilot on upcoming F-16: 'We're waiting for it to appear'
Video screenshot

The reporter seems taken aback by the soldier’s calm demeanor and asks, “Are you serious? Are you joking?” The soldier replies, “Yes, absolutely. Why not?” The discussion then transitions to comparing the capabilities of Russian fighters with the incoming F-16s.

Besides the F-16s…

Yesterday, on Sunday, July 7, the Dutch Foreign Minister, Casper Feltkamp, alongside Defense Minister, Ruben Brekelmans, reiterated their commitment to supply Ukraine with the Patriot air defense system during a meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba.

Ukraine wants to produce the US interceptor used in downing Su-35 - Patriot anti-aircraft system
Photo credit: Lockheed Martin

The initial announcement of this delivery came from the previous Dutch government this past June, yet a specific timeline remains undetermined. At the moment, Ukraine is believed to possess five such systems. Additionally, Romania has signaled the possibility of supplying another unit.

Ukraine continues to seek further air defense pledges at the forthcoming NATO summit in Washington. There’s also a possibility that Israel could provide up to six Patriot batteries. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is pushing hard for at least seven systems to protect vital cities such as Kharkiv, Dnipro, Zaporizhia, and notably, Odesa.

Where?

Turkish F-16s trial new LGK-82 and LGK-84 laser-guided bombs
Photo credit: TurkDef

The first F-16 fighter jets destined for Kyiv are slated for deployment in the Kharkiv region, where Russian forces currently maintain air superiority, reports The Guardian.

In the ongoing battles around Kharkiv, the Russian military has been deploying precision-guided bombs. Ukrainian forces are hopeful that Western aviation support will help counter these threats. Many Ukrainian sources indicate that these F-16s are specifically targeted to neutralize these risks in Kharkiv, according to the report.

However, experts caution that the Ukrainian military may encounter challenges in operating these jets. The U.S. is delaying the training of Ukrainian pilots on the F-16s, and their current expertise may not be sufficient. Additionally, maintaining these sophisticated aircraft will require a well-trained crew and qualified specialists.

Source: bulgarianmilitary.com 

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