Netherlands to deliver 18 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – The Netherlands will deliver 18 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help its battle against Russia’s invasion, the Dutch government said on Friday.

“Today I informed President Zelenskiy of our government’s decision to prepare an initial 18 F-16 fighter aircraft for delivery to Ukraine,” caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a post on social media platform X.

“The delivery of F-16s is one of the most important elements of the agreements made on military support for Ukraine.”

The delivery of the fighter jets is still pending on an export permit by the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs and the fulfillment of criteria for staff and infrastructure in Ukraine, Rutte added without giving a timeline for these decisions.

But the announcement made it possible to reserve funds and people to prepare the planes for delivery, the government said.

“I spoke with Mark Rutte to thank the Dutch government for its decision to start preparing the initial 18 F-16 jets for their delivery to Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy said on X.

The Netherlands sent its first U.S. made F-16s to a new training facility for Ukrainian pilots and staff in Romania last month.

Denmark, Norway and Belgium have also announced they will give F-16 jets to Ukraine, after the U.S. government approved sending them to defend against Russia as soon as pilot training is completed.

(Reporting by Bart Meijer and Yuliia Dysa; Editing by Charlotte Van Campenhout and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)