Denmark is beginning to train Ukrainian pilots in F-16 fighter Jets donated by Norway, the Norwegian Ministry of Defence announced 3 January 2024, as allied nations work to provide Ukraine with a modern air force in the defence against the ongoing Russian invasion.

Ukrainian technicians for the F-16 jets are also training in Denmark, as well as the USA and Belgium.

The Ukrainian pilots are seasoned cohort experienced in flying fighter jets of a less advanced design. The trainees have recently completed a training programme with the RAF in the UK, that began in August as part of the Air Force Capability Coalition. The UK will contribute by providing training through the Royal Air Force.

Ukraine is set to receive F-16 aircraft from NATO allies as early as Spring 2024, according to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III. Prior to the transfer of the F-16s, Ukraine must fulfill specific requirements, such as obtaining the necessary licenses and ensuring infrastructure preparedness. The planes will be subject to thorough inspections and modifications to ensure they are not used for unintended purposes. 

Norwegian defence minister Bjørn Arild Gram visited the airfield at Bodø, Norwy where the  2 F-16’s are being prepared for donation, accompanied by 10 Norwegian instructors, all set to begin instruction in Skydstrup, Denmark. 

The decision by Norway, Denmark, Belgium and The Netherlands to support Ukraine’s Air Force comes through a range frames of international support, including the donation of F-16 fighter jets for the air force. 

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The Netherlands Ministry of Defence has committed to providing Ukraine with 18 F-16 fighter aircraft. This decision underscores a collective effort to bolster Ukraine’s defense capabilities against Russia. 

Ukraine’s Defence Minister, Rustem Umerov, acknowledged the importance of this program for Ukrainian pilots, particularly in preparing them to operate F-16s.

Additional reporting from Harry McNeil.