Belgium's PM limits use of promised F-16s to Ukrainian territory

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The F-16 fighter jets, set to be transferred to Ukraine starting in 2024, are restricted to use within Ukrainian territory, Belgium's Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, said on May 28, during a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"Everything which is covered by this agreement is very clear," De Croo said.

The first F-16s with trained Ukrainian pilots will arrive in Ukraine by summer 2024, De Croo said on April 18.

Belgian Foreign Minister Khadja Labib said that Belgium will send 30 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine by 2028, with the first planes arriving by the end of the year.

F-16 fighters for Ukraine

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In August 2023, the Netherlands and Denmark pledged to jointly provide Ukraine with 61 American F-16 fighter jets, following a transfer authorization from the United States.

Norway also confirmed its intention to supply F-16s, while Belgium plans to provide Ukraine with F-16s in 2025.

The Netherlands initially announced preparations to transfer the first 18 aircraft to Ukraine in December, later increasing this number to 24. In total, the Netherlands has promised Kyiv 42 fighters.

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The tentative timeline for delivering the fighter jets to Ukraine is the first half of 2024.

The first F-16s are expected to arrive in Ukraine around June 2024, according to a February 18, 2024 report from Foreign Policy, citing European officials. However, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Yuriy Ihnat noted that it was impossible to specify exact dates for the transfer of F-16s by foreign partners.

The UK government announced on March 22 that the first 10 Ukrainian pilots had completed basic flight, ground, and language training on F-16 fighters in Britain. The military will now proceed to advanced flight training provided by the French Air Force.

Read also: First Ukrainian pilots complete F-16 training in the U.S.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated on March 27 that Western F-16 fighter jets should appear in Ukraine's skies by mid-summer.

Dutch Defense Minister Kees Ollongren announced on May 6 that the Netherlands plans to start sending F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine in the fall. Meanwhile, Danish Ambassador to Kyiv Ole Egberg Mikkelsen said that the planes would arrive this summer.

The Standard reported on May 10, citing a high-ranking military source, that the first Western F-16 fighter jets would arrive in Ukraine within a few weeks.

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