Denmark to start training Ukrainian pilots on F-16

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — The Danish government said Monday that training for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets has begun and the withdrawal of the Scandinavian country’s aging American fighter fleet has been brought forward by two years.

The replacement fighters, the F-35s, will be operational by 2025, acting defense minister Troels Lund Poulsen said. Initially, the change was planned for 2027.

Lund Poulsen said NATO member Denmark “has taken the decision to start a training and development effort for Ukrainian pilots.”

“We will also consider whether we should make a concrete donation to Ukraine of Danish F-16 fighters, and how many there should be,” he said.

Ukrainian pilots must go through six to eight months of training before a possible donation of Danish F-16 planes can become a reality, Lund Poulsen told Danish broadcaster DR.

“That doesn’t mean you can’t make a decision in advance. But (the F-16 planes) will be in Denmark until 2024,” Lund Poulsen said.

Denmark has ordered 27 F-35A fighter jets, which will replace the more than 40-year-old F-16s, of which Denmark has 30 operational aircraft. The transition to F-35A Joint Strike Fighter aircraft takes place from late 2023 to late 2025.

Ukraine has long requested Western fighter jets to help it resist the full-scale Russian invasion, which began in February 2022. Initially reluctant, the United States and other NATO nations have recently agreed to allow Ukrainian pilots to receive F-16 fighter training, although none have yet committed to handing over planes.


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