The delivery of the promised F-16 fighter jets from the Netherlands to Ukraine will start sometime in the next year, Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in an interview with MSNBC on Sept. 26, APA reports citing Kyiv Independent.
The minister estimated that the training of Ukrainian pilots on the fourth-generation jets could take six to eight months, which is a shorter period than the usual training of Dutch pilots.
She, however, emphasized that the exact timeline is not clear, adding that other staff, such as technicians, must be trained as well to maintain the aircraft.
Ollongren told MNSBC that Denmark had already launched its training for Ukrainian pilots, adding that the U.S. would soon begin as well and the Netherlands is preparing a training center in Romania.
The minister noted that the Netherlands, as well as Denmark and Norway, are able to provide Ukraine with F-16s because their air forces are transitioning to newer F-35 aircraft.
Ukraine has been long seeking to obtain modern Western fighter jets to gain an edge against Russian forces in the sky. According to Air Force spokesperson Yurii Ihnat, deploying F-16s on the battlefield could change the course of the war.
The Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway have so far confirmed they will send their F-16 fighters to Ukraine.
Copenhagen said earlier that Ukraine could receive the first batch of six Danish F-16s already by the New Year. However, former Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov estimated in August that it will take at least six to seven months before Ukrainian military staff is ready to receive the jets.
The training of Ukrainian pilots began in Denmark this August in partnership with other nations of the "fighter jet coalition." Washington later announced that it would launch its own training sessions for Ukrainian aviators in October.