Norway has announced that it will send six of its leftover F-16 aircraft to Ukraine before the end of 2024, according to Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre on 10 July 2024.

Under the auspices of the Air Force Capability Coalition (AFCC) – led by Denmark, the Netherlands and the US – Norway had previously declared that it would contribute its old units to the wartorn nation in August last year.

However, the exact number of aircraft had yet to be released, although Norwegian media reported that the US had approved the transfer of as many as 22 Norwegian jets just three months ago.

“Combined with air defence systems, the fighter jets will be vital to enabling the Ukrainians to defend themselves against Russian air attacks,” Støre suggested.

F-16s to F-35s

Norway began to phase out its ageing F-16s in 2021 in connection with the induction of new F-35A multi-role combat aircraft. According to GlobalData, Norway currently has 30 F-16A/Bs in its inventory that were acquired from General Dynamics between 1980 and 1997.

The decision to procure Lockheed Martin’s multi-role stealth fighter as a replacement for the F-16 fleet was made in 2008, and the first delivery of a planned 52 occurred in 2015. Thus far, Norway has received 40 airframes of the total order. The nation is scheduled to conclude its procurement before 2028.

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As part of the transition Norway sold 32 F-16s to Romania, signing a contract to that end in November 2022. In addition, two units were also offered to Ukrainian pilots training in Denmark along with ten Norwegian instructors in January this year.

Delivery of planes to Ukraine

Denmark’s leading F-16 donation is imminent, with the US Department of Defense suggesting that their delivery will take place from as early as summer 2024.

Likewise, the Netherlands initially pledged 18 F-16s, and bumped the figure up to 24 after talks had fallen through to sell six aircraft to Draken, a private US company, in February.

Besides F-16s, France also put forward its own contribution of Mirage 2000-5 fighters – an undisclosed number of them – to Ukraine last month during this year’s D-Day commeration, marking the 80th anniversary of the largest amphibious invasion in human history.

Ahead of delivery, the western Ukrainian city of Starokostiantyniv, home to one of Ukraine’s most important air bases, has been a primary target of Russian airstrikes at the start of July; a tactic used to pre-empt sites it expects Ukraine will house its new Western fleet.

“Both [Ukrainian] President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kuleba have repeatedly expressed their deep appreciation of Norway’s support to Ukraine’s air defence, and have stated explicitly that these aircraft will play a crucial role in their ability to defend their right to freedom and sovereignty,” stated Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide.