Denmark runs out of F-16 fighters, gives the rest to Ukraine

Denmark will transfer all its remaining F-16 fighters to Ukraine after re-equipping with F-35s. This was stated by the Ambassador of Denmark to Ukraine Ole Egberg Mikkelsen on the air of the Ukrainian telethon. According to him, the Ukrainian air force will receive all Danish F-16s minus the vehicles sold to Argentina.

Denmark runs out of F-16 fighters, gives the rest to Ukraine
Photo credit: EPA-EFE/BO AMSTRUP

Thus, as of 2023, Denmark had 44 F-16AM and F-16BM fighters, of which 24 aircraft were sold to Argentina in April 2024. Thus, as stated, Denmark will transfer a total of 19 F-16 fighters to Ukraine in several batches without a specific deadline.

Let us recall that Western countries agreed to transfer to Ukraine only about 65 F-16 fighters in various modifications, among which, in addition to 19 aircraft from Denmark, there should be 24 aircraft from the Netherlands and 22 from Norway.

Ukrainians aren't ready, so we're delaying F-16 delivery - Denmark
Photo credit: AP

Knowledge of Denmark’s pledge to supply several fighter jets to Ukraine has been in circulation since the start of the year. However, it wasn’t until the official confirmation of Argentina’s purchase agreement that Copenhagen felt secure about the exact number to assign to Ukraine. Yet, the success of this deal hinges not only on the supply of F-35s but also on the progress made in Ukrainian pilot training.

Initial estimates suggest that the delivery of the Danish F-16s could be feasible during the latter half of 2024. This period was outlined by Denmark’s Ministry of Defense as a realistic timeline in a statement released on January 6th of this year. 

At present, Denmark faces a significant challenge regarding its national security. The nation currently houses six Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighter jets at the Luke Air Force Base in Arizona for training its pilots. The other four jets, out of the ten that were delivered, are located at Denmark’s Skridstrup Airbase.

Argentina procures 24 used European F-16A/B MLUs with AIM missiles
Photo credit: NATO

The United States currently finds itself in a somewhat complex situation. In particular, the reputed aerospace industry leader, Lockheed Martin, appears to be facing challenging times. Meanwhile, in Denmark, there’s uncertainty about when the country’s Royal Danish Air Force will receive its next batch of F-35s. This controversy centers on the Technology Refresh 3 [TR-3] configuration by Lockheed Martin. Despite the firm’s solid assurances to complete these essential updates by July, Denmark, among other countries, continues to wait for these state-of-the-art fighter planes. 

In response to the situation, Denmark’s Defense Minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, has recently proposed a few alternative strategies to bolster national security. These potential measures span a variety of ideas, ranging from withdrawing the six Danish aircraft from Luke Air Force Base to possibly leasing or directly purchasing F-35 fighter jets from allied forces.

Earlier this year, around the middle of March, Denmark announced that the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine wouldn’t be held hostage by the F-35s’ delivery timeline. However, their internal experts are voicing concerns about possible national security imbalances. 

At Mach 1.9, the F-16 rapidly reduces speed and quivers - US pilot
Photo credit: USAF

Meanwhile, Denmark hasn’t placed any restrictions on extending military aid to Ukraine. As last year drew to a close, at least 14 Ukrainian pilots were given the go-ahead to start their F-16 training in Denmark, shortly after they had aced their “dry run” in Great Britain.

The Danish F-16 AM is a multirole fighter aircraft, an upgraded version of the F-16A, which is widely used by the Royal Danish Air Force. It features advanced avionics and weapon systems, making it a formidable asset in any air combat scenario. 

The technical characteristics of the F-16 AM include a maximum speed of Mach 2.0, a range of 2,000 miles, and a service ceiling of 50,000 feet. It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220E turbofan engine, which provides a thrust of 24,500 pounds. The aircraft has a length of 49.3 feet, a wingspan of 32.8 feet, and a height of 16.7 feet.

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

The avionics of the F-16 AM are highly advanced and include the AN/APG-66(V)2 radar, which provides all-weather, day, and night capabilities. It also features the Modular Mission Computer [MMC], which enhances the aircraft’s air-to-air and air-to-ground capabilities. Other avionic systems include the Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System [JHMCS], which allows the pilot to aim weapons simply by looking at a target, and the Link 16 data link for secure, real-time data exchange with NATO allies. 

The armament of the F-16 AM is quite versatile. It is equipped with a 20mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon for close-in combat. For air-to-air engagements, it can carry AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range missiles and AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range missiles. For air-to-ground missions, it can be armed with a variety of weapons, including AGM-65 Maverick missiles, Paveway laser-guided bombs, and JDAM GPS-guided bombs. 

The operational range of the F-16 AM is approximately 2,000 miles on internal fuel. However, this can be extended with the use of external fuel tanks or air-to-air refueling. The aircraft’s combat radius, or the distance it can fly from its base to conduct an attack and return, is about 350 miles.

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