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12 May, 2024 14:54

Kiev to get first of West’s F-16s ‘within weeks’ – report

Ukrainian Air Force spokesman had earlier claimed that promised fighter jets could be supplied as early as this month
Kiev to get first of West’s F-16s ‘within weeks’ – report

Ukraine may receive the F-16 fighter jets promised to it by its Western backers “within weeks,” the British newspaper Evening Standard claimed on Friday, citing what it called a “high-ranking military source.” The aircraft were due to be supplied to Kiev either by June or July, the source said.

The paper did not report on which nation would supposedly deliver the jets or what their total number is to be. In March, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said that Demark would be the first nation to deliver the F-16s and would do it at some point this summer. The Netherlands was to follow soon after and provide Ukraine with their batch of fighter jets “in the second half of the year,” the minister said at that time.

Earlier in May, Ukrainian Air Force spokesman Ilya Evlash stated that Kiev could get the jets as early as after May 5. He also admitted that the delivery date had already been “changed several times.” Kiev has been seeking to acquire the US-made jets for quite some time amid its ongoing conflict with Moscow, which entered its third year this February.

In 2023, Western countries announced an international coalition to help Ukraine procure US-designed F-16s and train its pilots. More than 40 aircraft were pledged to Kiev in total by several Western nations, including Denmark, which vowed to provide 19 jets of this type, and by the Netherlands, which said it would send 24.

The Ukrainian officials admitted that the country may face infrastructure difficulties in maintaining the US-designed jets. Some of the nation’s senior military officials also told Politico in April that the aircraft could even be no longer relevant, since Russia had already taken measures to counter them.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last November that, although the F-16s would surely add to Ukraine’s capabilities, they would be far from “a silver bullet” that could fundamentally change the situation on the front lines.

Russia has repeatedly stated that continued Western arms shipments to Kiev only prolong the conflict without changing its future outcome.