Washington has told Denmark and the Netherlands that they will be permitted to hand over their F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine when the country’s pilots are trained to operate them, the US State Department said Friday.
According to a State Department spokesman, both Denmark and the Netherlands, which are leading the program to train Ukraine’s pilots on the F-16, have been given “formal assurances” for a jet transfer.
“This way, Ukraine can take full advantage of its new capabilities as soon as the first set of pilots complete their training,” the spokesman said.
The United States keeps tight restrictions on the resale or transfer of US-made military equipment by allies.
Training by an 11-nation coalition was to begin this month, and officials have said they hoped for pilots to be ready by early 2024.
Netherlands Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren welcomed the move.
“It allows us to follow through on the training of Ukrainian pilots,” she said on social media.
The F-16 program responds to requests by Ukraine to replace the heavy losses incurred by its air force, which flies mostly Russian aircraft.
The U.S. jet has better combat capabilities than those operated by Ukraine, but requires more training for pilots.
Kyiv has been pushing hard since last year for the US-made jets, but Washington only gave its nod in recent months.