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​The Netherlands Will Consider the Possibility of Transferring F-16 Jets to Ukraine: Why This is a Very Realistic Scenario

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F-16 multirole fighter aircraft / Photo credit: US DoD
F-16 multirole fighter aircraft / Photo credit: US DoD

The government of the Netherlands will consider the issue of supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. These planes are being decommissioned anyway - so they can be sent to reinforce the Armed Forces of Ukraine

Fighter jets for Ukraine are much more than just a need, but the discussion of the possibility of obtaining Western aircraft currently remains only a discussion of the need, but not ways of solving it in practice. But it seems that the light at the end of the tunnel is starting to appear. At the same time, there is an opportunity for Ukraine to receive American fighter jets from a country that definitely did not appear among possible donors - the Netherlands.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra, who also holds the post of Deputy Prime Minister, announced during the parliamentary debate that the government will consider the transfer of F-16 aircraft to Ukraine and will do so with an open mind, writes the Dutch publication NL Times. It should be noted that the parliament of the Netherlands already has an appeal to the government with a proposal to provide F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Read more: ​Ukraine's Anti-Aircraft Defense Shot Down 65% of russian Missiles on Saturday, But There Were Some That There Was Nothing to Intercept
F-16 multipurpose light fighter of the Netherlands Air Force, The Netherlands Will Consider the Possibility of Transferring F-16s Jets to Ukraine, Defense Express
F-16 multipurpose light fighter of the Netherlands Air Force

But it is extremely important to evaluate this issue pragmatically from the point of view of the real capabilities of this country to provide aircraft. And the first thing to pay attention to is that the Netherlands is decommissioning its F-16 fighter jets because of their replacement by the F-35 multirole fighter jets. In total, the country's air force had 61 F-16AM/BM aircraft in 2021, which were to be sold off.

In particular, in June 2021, information appeared about the intention to sell the first 12 aircraft to the private company Draken International. The contract also allegedly included an option for 28 aircraft to be phased out by the end of spring 2024. As of late 2021, the contract's status remained "unsigned" as it required US government approval and equipment removal, although the aircraft were spotted during test flights in Florida, the US, where Draken International is based.

In December 2022, it was reported that 11 Dutch F-16 fighter jets had returned from the US to Europe for overhaul at the Belgian Sabena Aerospace facility. At the same time, there was an assumption that the contract with Draken International was not agreed, and in this case the F-16 aircraft could go to Bulgaria, which is urgently looking for aircraft for rent. But this information was also not confirmed.

The Netherlands Will Consider the Possibility of Transferring F-16s Jets to Ukraine, Defense Express
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a single-engine multirole fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force

Thus, it is possible to confidently say that the Netherlands definitely has F-16 aircraft, the transfer of which does not pose a threat to the country's defense capabilities. Moreover, we are talking about a rather significant resource in order to transfer not just a dozen F-16 jets, but a rather significant number of aircraft. This can be understood if you simply look at the schedule for the decommissioning of aircraft until the spring of 2024.

It should be noted that the Netherlands was one of the first European buyers of F-16s, which arrived in batches from 1979 to 1989. The oldest machines were decommissioned in 1993, when their number decreased from 170 to 138. Decommissioning aircraft continued for another 20 years, until only 61 aircraft remained in service. Block 15OCU can be considered the basic configuration of aircraft currently in the arsenal of the Netherlands.

U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, with two Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, one 2,000-pound bomb, and an auxiliary fuel tank mounted on each wing. An electronic countermeasures pod is mounted on the centreline, The Netherlands Will Consider the Possibility of Transferring F-16s Jets to Ukraine, Defense Express
U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon, with two Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, one 2,000-pound bomb, and an auxiliary fuel tank mounted on each wing. An electronic countermeasures pod is mounted on the centreline / Photo credit: Ken Hackman, U.S. DoD

During the operation all the regular repairs and additional elements of modernization of the aircraft were carried out, including the installation of Lantirn high-precision weapons guidance modules, ALQ-131 Block-2 EW modules, navigation system updates. It should be noted that the Dutch F-16 fighter jets have the ability to use the entire basic nomenclature of weapons, including AIM-120 and JDAAM missiles.

Defense Express reported earlier, that Ukrainian Air Force Named Systems and Aircraft it Needs to Strengthen Air Fefence. We also wrote that Ukraine’s Air Force Hoped Get F-16 Aircraft Instead of to Create Something Like Iron Dome as well as Asked Germany For Tornado.

Read more: What Types of Aircrafts Ukrainian Air Force Needs