24 F-16s export papers to Ukraine were signed – Kajsa Ollongren

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren has signed documents for the export of 24 F-16s to Ukraine, signaling a significant move that could lead to direct engagements with Russian forces. According to Greek media, these jets “will soon face Russian fighters.” 

The Netherlands is gearing up to deliver the first batch of these 24 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, as announced by the Dutch government. In a letter to parliament, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren confirmed that all necessary permits have been granted, just ahead of the government’s transition following last year’s election efforts to form a new administration. 

For security reasons, she did not disclose the exact number of planes in the initial delivery or the specific timeline for their arrival in Ukraine. Notably, the Netherlands has been a key advocate for providing Ukraine with F-16s to strengthen its defenses against Russia.

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

Dutch F-16s for training

Earlier, the Dutch government sent F-16s to a training base in Romania, where Ukrainian pilots and ground personnel are being trained to fly and maintain these aircraft for combat operations. In April, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced that deliveries from Denmark, the Netherlands, and the United States were expected to commence within months. 

The decision by the Netherlands to permit the use of their fighter jets for striking targets on Russian territory is expected to escalate tensions with the Russian Federation, potentially leading to a highly precarious situation for all involved. 

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

Western fighter jets pose significant challenges for Russia, compelling it to allocate portions of its air force to counter these threats.

Rumors and assumptions

Ukraine’s Western allies have promised that F-16 fighter jets will start arriving this summer, which has already begun. With the recent increase in Russian bombing, supposedly targeting F-16 infrastructure, there are many rumors and guesses.  

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

The big question is: Can Russia destroy the Ukrainian airfields prepared for these F-16s before they are ready to fly? Some experts think it’s possible. There’s also a chance that Poland and Romania might be used as bases for the Ukrainian F-16s, but this hasn’t been confirmed. 

Jake Sullivan, the National Security Advisor to the U.S. President, confirmed that the F-16 fighter jets the U.S. plans to provide to Ukraine will be stationed in Ukraine itself. “The plan is to deploy the F-16s to Ukraine,” Sullivan said in an interview with PBS on June 19. Ukraine has been keen to use F-16 fighter jets, a move strongly opposed by the Russian military. Retired Russian Colonel Viktor Litovkin warned that if Ukraine builds airfields and facilities for these jets, Russia will target and destroy them. He stressed that Russia would watch construction closely to strike at key moments.

$167K award for the first downed F-16

If Russia pollutes the runways, the US F-16 becomes unusable
Photo by US Air Force/Senior Airman Erica Webster

Ukraine is on track to receive at least 75 ready-for-action F-16 fighter jets from its allies, with some estimates suggesting the final number might be even higher. These aircraft are expected to be crucial in Ukraine’s defense against any potential Russian incursion. Notably, with Denmark’s approval, F-16s might even be able to strike targets within Russia. 

According to BulgarianMilitary.com, a Russian company is offering a substantial reward for shooting down any of the anticipated Ukrainian F-16 fighter jets. Sergey Shmotyev, the director of the Ural-based company Fores, has promised a reward of 15 million rubles [approximately $167,700] for downing the first F-16 aircraft, and 500,000 rubles [around $5,591] for each additional plane. 

Shmotyev also mentioned that there were earlier rewards for taking out tanks, with a bounty of 5 million rubles [about $55,910] for the first tank, and 500,000 rubles [around $5,591] for each subsequent tank. He added that over 20 tanks are currently awaiting their destruction rewards.

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

Not just F-16s

Just under a year ago, BulgarianMilitary.com reported that Ukraine was poised to receive Dassault Mirage 2000 fighters from France, based on French sources. This speculation became reality on June 6 when French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed the transfer. He announced that France would be providing Ukraine with Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets, manufactured by Dassault, and would also take on the training of Ukrainian pilots in France. 

Macron’s announcement marks a significant moment in recent history. We knew that Kyiv and Paris were in talks about French aircraft, with detailed negotiations reported as early as September following Kyiv’s official request to Paris. 

Ukraine 'loudly' wants F-16, but secretly trains Mirage 2000 pilots
Photo credit: Pixabay

Moreover, almost six months before the French parliament debated providing fighter jets to Ukraine, French publication La Figaro revealed significant news. They reported that about 30 Ukrainian pilots received expedited training to operate the Mirage 2000 fighters. This training took place at two French air bases: Mont-de-Marsan and Nancy. However, this information has not yet been officially confirmed by French authorities.

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