How many jets has Ukraine been pledged? Country to receive F-16s ‘this summer’

Volodymyr Zelensky sits in a F-16 fighter jet in the hangar of the Skrydstrup airbase in Vojens, northern Denmark last August (Ritzau Scanpix / AFP via Getty Images)
Volodymyr Zelensky sits in a F-16 fighter jet in the hangar of the Skrydstrup airbase in Vojens, northern Denmark last August (Ritzau Scanpix / AFP via Getty Images)

Denmark's defence minister Troels Lund Poulsen said on Friday (February 23) that the Ukrainian air force should get its first batch of F-16 fighter aircraft by this summer.

According to Poulsen, that is “if the preparations proceed as planned" for pilot training and infrastructure development.

The Netherlands, Norway, and Belgium are the other nations pledging General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcons to Ukraine, while other countries have promised to train Ukrainian pilots.

Poulsen made his remarks as Copenhagen decided to authorise an additional €228m (£195m) in military aid for Ukraine.

He said: "The war in Ukraine is entering its third year, and so continued military support for Ukraine is completely decisive for the outcome of the war."

According to the defence ministry, the package contains 15,000 artillery shells that will be sent "within a few months" to Ukraine.

It also includes mine-clearance equipment, drones, radars, and communication gear. The package was paid for by the Danes and acquired through the Czech Republic.

The Dutch defence minister, Kajsa Ollongren, said on February 5 that the country is getting ready to provide Ukraine with an extra six F-16 fighter planes built in the United States.

According to the Kyiv Independent, this takes the Netherlands' total number of jets pledged to Ukraine to 24. There is still no update on the previous 18 that were promised on December 22.

As well as the Netherlands, in August it was announced Ukraine is to receive F-16 fighter jets manufactured in the United States, Denmark and Romania at training facilities as soon as training is finished.

The hope among Kyiv's allies is that the aircraft will be able to drive Russian planes back from the frontlines, more accurately target radar transmitters and intercept more cruise missiles.

As Russia has had time to strengthen its air defences, F-16s will be "less helpful" now than they would have been a year ago, according to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Valery Zaluzhnyi, speaking in November.

On August 20, Netherlands and Denmark said they will provide up to 61 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine once pilot training has been successfully completed, it is not known if any have arrived yet.

The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, visited the Netherlands in May 2023 and Denmark in August 2023 following months of appeals to strengthen the Ukrainian air force.

Mette Frederiksen, the prime minister of Denmark had said in August her country would donate 19 jets: “hopefully” six in 2023, eight more in 2024 and the final five in 2025. According to national Danish newspaper Berlingske in January, there were six Ukrainian pilots training on the advanced fighter jets in Denmark.

Whether or not the Netherlands’ pledges are their final total is not known. Mark Rutte, the prime minister, has noted that the country had 42 in its air force, suggesting it does not have many more to spare. However, the nation was already in the midst of replacing them with more modern F-35s built in the US.

Ukraine admitted on August 17 it was not able to deploy the US-made F-16 fighter jets in the autumn and winter of 2023 because of a lack of training.

Here is a look at how many jets Ukraine has been pledged and what we know about the state of the armament flow to help it combat Russian forces.

How many jets did Ukraine have at the start of the war?

Ukrainians had around 105 MiG-29s, Su-24s and Su-25s before the Russians attacked, according to Forbes. The Su-27s are likely to be Ukraine’s most useful jets as they are fast and manoeuvrable.

How many jets is Poland sending?

Poland had promised Ukraine four MiG-29 fighter jets, which had been inherited from the former German Democratic Republic. It issued an update on May 17 that it has delivered almost all its jets to Ukraine. Even before Russia invaded Ukraine, Poland was one of the loudest opponents of the Russian leadership in Europe.

The German government approved Poland’s request in mid-April last year. The defence minister, Boris Pistorius, said: “I welcome the fact that we, in the federal government, have reached this decision together.”

Who else is arming Ukraine?

But by a wide margin, the US provides the most military aid, followed by the UK and the EU.

On January 23 last year President Zelensky declared that his country's forces urgently required western battle tanks to protect its borders and drive Russian troops out of occupied territory.

The same month, the US, the UK and Germany said they were sending tanks, and Germany allowed other Western countries to send German-made tanks from their fleets.

The US is sending 31 Abrams tanks, the UK is sending 14, Germany is sending 14 and the US is sending 14 Challenger 2 tanks. It is not clear if all of these have reached the battlefield.

Many European nations use the Leopard 2, which is said to be more fuel-efficient and easier to maintain than the majority of Western tanks.

Six Leopard 2 tanks were sent out to Ukraine by Spain on April 21.