Belgium to participate in training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 jets

Six Ukrainian instructors and four mission planners will be trained on F-16 aircraft in Belgium to train Ukrainian pilots.

Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder announced this, Le Soir reports.

The Ministerial Council confirmed Belgium’s participation in the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter aircraft as part of an “F-16 coalition” led by the Netherlands and Denmark, intending to deliver fighter-bombers of this type to Ukraine and training personnel capable of operating these aircraft, the Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder said.

Belgium’s participation in the training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16s

In addition, Defence will deploy a team of three military personnel over the next few weeks to a training centre for Ukrainian F-16 pilots in Denmark, which has made its Skrydstrup air base in the south of the country available for this purpose, Mrs Dedonder added.

In 2024, the Ministry of Defence will deploy two F-16s – a two-seat F-16B trainer aircraft – to Denmark for advanced training and a detachment of around fifty soldiers, primarily technicians, to support the deployment of the F-16s.

In this way, Belgium is contributing to building Ukraine’s military aviation capabilities and sharing its decades of experience, Dedonder said.

When will Ukraine receive F-16 fighter jets?

In August, the Netherlands and Denmark confirmed they would provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter jets in a long-awaited statement expected to boost Ukraine’s challenging counteroffensive against Russian invaders. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Ukraine would get 42 jets.

The jet coalition includes the Netherlands, Romania, Denmark, United Kingdom, Belgium, Poland, Luxembourg, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, and Ukraine.

Ukraine will receive F16s when its pilots will complete the training. According to Ukrainian officials’ statements, the F16 training has already started. Training of Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighters may take 6 months, but the exact time frame is still to be confirmed.

The combat capability of F-16 aircraft depends on the weapons carried. The F-16 is a good aircraft platform to deploy various weapons, including Western long-range high-precision missiles that NATO allies have already provided Ukraine, such as “Scalp” and “Storm Shadow”.

So, the Ukrainian Air Force might be able to defend its skies with F-16s in the coming winter. And at this period, according to British intelligence, Russian troops plan to bombard Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as they did in the autumn of 2022.

How will F-16 jets protect Ukraine? 

Russia is increasingly using guided bombs against Ukrainian border towns. The planes do not fly close to the border and bomb civilians from a safe distance with impunity. 

Ukrainian Armed Forces will only have a way to counter such tactics once they receive F-16 universal combat aircraft from the West. 

Although they will not be a panacea for all Russian air attacks, they can close many gaps in the defence of Ukrainian skies. Ukraine insists that the main guarantee of safe skies is modern Western aircraft. The F-16 provision is a quick and effective solution.

The range of tasks that F-16 jets will perform in Ukraine is also quite wide. First, it will strengthen Ukraine’s air defence, as the F16 is an ideal hunter for Russian combat drones.

Secondly, the long-range missiles used on F-16s will help the Ukrainian Army to destroy Russian equipment and logistics. The war is far from over, and in early 2024, the renewed Ukrainian Air Force may surprise the Russians, ending their superiority in the air.

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