Netherlands Pledges $164 Million In F-16 Ammunition for Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte walk past an F-16 fighter jet in Eindhoven, Netherlands, Aug. 20, 2023.

Ukraine’s F-16 fighter jet program is getting another boost from its NATO allies. The Netherlands has pledged to deliver Kyiv with $164 million in ammunition for the aircraft.

Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren said in a post to X, formerly Twitter, on Wednesday that the funds will go toward producing air-to-ground missiles that can be fired from F-16s. The Netherlands also secured an additional $218.7 million to produce Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) drones for Kyiv.

Ollongren’s announcement follows her two-day trip to Kyiv to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who thanked the Dutch government for its continued support throughout Ukraine’s war against Russia. The Netherlands, alongside Denmark, has been a leader in efforts to get Western-made fighter jets in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers.

“We are grateful to the Dutch government led by the Prime Minister, the parliament and society for all the support and important decisions for Ukraine,” Zelensky said in a press release Wednesday.

Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have all pledged to provide F-16s to Ukraine’s armed forces, and several other NATO members, including the United States, have bolstered efforts to train Kyiv’s pilots on the modern aircraft.

Ollongren told Reuters on Wednesday that she is confident that the first batch of fighter jets pledged by Denmark will arrive in Ukraine this summer, and that the Netherlands’ F-16s will head to Kyiv during the “second half of the year.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said last month that it was unclear when Ukraine would receive F-16s, telling Radio Liberty that there was a “dilemma” in getting the aircraft to Ukraine.

“We all want the F-16s to be there as soon as possible,” Stoltenberg said. “At the same time, of course, the effect of the F-16 will be stronger and better with more trained pilots. And not only pilots, but also maintenance, personnel and all the support systems that must be in place.”

One of Kyiv’s pilots who is undergoing training to be brought up to speed on the F-16s told Voice of America in February that he was “very impressed” by the modern aircraft and that training was going “as planned.”

“This plane simply exceeded their expectations,” the pilot, who goes by the call sign Phantom, said. “Even with the amount of information they have received during training, they already see great prospects and great potential for how this aircraft will help our Air Force to increase our combat aviation capabilities.”

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