More Dutch F-16s Arrive in Romania for Ukrainian Pilot Training

The Netherlands has delivered three more F-16 Fighting Falcons to Bucharest as part of a multinational flight training cooperation for Ukrainian pilots in Romania.

The mission supports allied forces in preparing Kyiv’s aircrews as they transition from Soviet-era aircraft to F-16s amid Russia’s invasion.

For the latest delivery, the three Dutch planes were accompanied by two Romanian F16s to a European Flight Training Center developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin.

‘Necessary’ Step

The latest shipping brings the amount of Dutch F-16s for Ukrainian pilot training in Romania to 11.

The three new planes will be used to prepare Romanian and Ukrainian operators, as well as aircrews from different EU partners requiring flight competency programs.

All jets for this project will only fly above NATO airspace.

Kajsa Ollongren
Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren during the delivery of F-16s to the Ukrainian pilot training in Romania. Photo: Netherlands Ministry of Defence

F-16 Training for Ukraine

Romania received the first five jets from the Netherlands to train Ukrainian pilots just months after the partner countries confirmed their participation in the mission last year.

In mid-2023, Warsaw began Ukrainian F-16 training in Poland. Simultaneously, the US commenced preparations for “several” operators and “dozen” maintenance personnel.

In December 2023, the UK began its sessions with Kyiv’s pilots in Denmark.

The Norwegian government then confirmed the delivery of two fighter jets for the purpose in January 2024.

F-16s for Ukraine

On top of the planes for the training purposes, the Netherlands pledged 18 of the jets to Ukraine itself.

Royal Netherlands Airforce F-16
A Royal Netherlands Airforce F-16 Fighting Falcon flies in support of Exercise Bold Avenger over the North Sea, September 23, 2009. Image: US Air Force/Senior Airman Thomas Trower

“With F-16s, Ukraine can better defend itself against Russian aggression. We are working hard to transfer the devices as quickly as possible,” Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren remarked during the acceptance ceremony in Romania.

“The Ukrainian air force currently still flies Soviet aircraft and must make the transition to the F-16. That takes years in peacetime.”

“Now everything is being done to speed up the process. It is necessary to train sufficient staff and have the infrastructure in order. In this way, the Ukrainian air force will soon be able to effectively deploy the F-16s.”

The US, developer of the F-16s, approved the transfer of Dutch and Danish Fighting Falcons to Ukraine last year in response to Russian attacks “as soon as the first set of pilots complete their training.”

In August 2023, Oslo announced plans to also donate the combat aircraft, making Norway the third country to offer the American system to Kyiv.

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