Denmark Minister of Defense Troels Lund Poulsen said Wednesday that his country plans to make the first delivery of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in the spring of 2024.
According to a report by the Danish broadcaster TV2, Poulsen said that he expects the first six out of the 19 F-16s promised to Ukraine to arrive in March or April of next year. The news comes at the same time the Danish Ministry of Defense announced a new coalition spearheaded by the U.S., Denmark and the Netherlands to support Ukraine in establishing a future air force based on the F-16 jets.
“Denmark has throughout the war, played a key role through substantial military donations to Ukraine, not least in regards to the donation of F-16 fighter jets,” Poulsen said in a release from the Danish defense ministry. “The responsibility as co-lead in this new coalition thus falls naturally in Danish hands.”
The U.S. State Department promised back in August that U.S.-made fighter jets would be made available to Ukraine once Kyiv’s pilots proved to be fully trained and ready to operate the aircraft. Although Denmark and the Netherlands have promised to offer up their own F-16s, the deliveries of the U.S.-made jets must be approved by Washington.
The Netherlands has 42 American-made F-16s but has yet to announce how many they plan to donate to Ukraine’s defense against Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky previously claimed that Kyiv is poised to receive 42 jets in total between the Dutch and Denmark.
Ukraine, whose pilots are currently operating Soviet-era MiG-29s and Su-27s jets, have made several pleas for F-16s, and experts have previously told Newsweek that it could only take a dozen or so of the aircraft to make a true difference in the war in Ukraine. Western-made jets like the F-16s also hold an edge over their Russian counterparts that the Kremlin has long deployed, including advanced radar and guidance systems and the ability to be armed with precision-guided missiles and bombs.
Belgium Defense Minister Ludivine Dedonder also announced Wednesday that the country will begin sending F-16s to Ukraine in 2025, according to a report from Beglium media company RTL. The announcement followed a surprise visit by Zelensky to Brussels, where the Ukrainian leader met with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, reported Politico.
The Biden Administration also declared an additional $200 million in military aid for Kyiv, which will include additional air defense capabilities and anti-tank weapons.
Newsweek reached out to the Pentagon for comment via email Wednesday afternoon.