(MENAFN) In a significant move to bolster Ukraine's defense capabilities, Norway has dispatched its aging F-16 fighter jets to Denmark, marking a crucial step in the Ukrainian pilot training program. The announcement was made by the Norwegian Armed Forces on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday, confirming the arrival of the warplanes at the Danish Skydstrup air base. The initiative, aimed at enhancing Ukraine's military capabilities, is part of an ongoing collaboration involving Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Belgium, all committed to supporting Kiev.
Norwegian media had previously reported the nation's plan to send two fighter jets and ten instructors to Denmark for the specific purpose of training Ukrainian pilots. While the exact number of warplanes that Oslo intends to transfer to Ukraine remains unclear, this endeavor underscores Norway's steadfast support for the Eastern European nation.
The decision to provide aging F-16 fighter jets reflects Norway's commitment to reinforcing Ukraine's defense, with the military emphasizing that, "After over 40 years in service, these aircraft will now train Ukrainian military personnel." It is worth noting that the reference to 40 years could indicate the collective service period of the F-16 jets, which were in use by Norway from 1980 until their replacement with F-35 in 2022.
The aircraft earmarked for Ukraine are acknowledged as "obsolete" by Lieutenant Colonel Bard Bakke, the commander of the training mission in Denmark. Despite their age, Bakke emphasized that the F-16 jets had undergone additional upgrades, making them "relatively modern." However, he cautioned that these fighter jets are not a "miracle weapon" capable of altering the dynamics of the ongoing conflict between Kiev and Moscow.
The United States, initially cautious about providing Ukraine with Western-made fighter jets, signaled approval for a third-party transfer of the aircraft in August 2023. This approval, contingent on the completion of Ukrainian pilots' training, paved the way for countries like Norway to contribute to Ukraine's defense capabilities. As these fighter jets embark on their new mission, the collaborative effort among European nations to support Ukraine's defense takes a significant step forward.
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