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F-16s for Ukraine: Defense Ministry provides tentative handover timeline

F-16s for Ukraine: Defense Ministry provides tentative handover timeline F-16 (Getty Images)
Author: Liliana Oleniak

During the 19th meeting in the Ramstein format, the parties hardly raised the issue of the transfer of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. All decisions had already been made, according to Illarion Pavliuk, head of the Press and Information Department at the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.

"Everything is very simple with the F-16, all decisions have already been made. There is nothing left to discuss. Decisions have been made, we are moving according to plan. We have an understanding of the deadlines, we have an understanding of what needs to be done within these deadlines. This is in terms of training pilots, preparing infrastructure, engineers, etc. As soon as all these elements are fulfilled, F-16s will appear in Ukraine," Pavliuk says.

In particular, the head of the Press and Information Department of the Ministry of Defense notes that Ukraine will not officially announce the date of receipt of the aircraft. This is necessary to prevent the enemy from using this information.

"As soon as we know the exact date, we will not tell anyone. After all, the enemy is guided, among other things, by information from open sources. Therefore, everything is fine with the F-16. We all hope that the F-16s will be in Ukraine as soon as possible. But we all understand that they should appear when we are ready to use and maintain them effectively," Pavliuk explains.

Drones for Ukraine

According to Pavliuk, the issue of drones was also discussed during Ramstein. It is expected that there will be not only deliveries of UAVs but also joint production of drones.

He adds that the partners voiced quite ambitious commitments regarding the number of drones.

"And it is very gratifying when we hear such commitments and that there is a full understanding of how the battlefield has changed in modern warfare. When it comes to FPV drones, they are already being talked about separately, as well as all types of unmanned systems. Because this is the key to winning this asymmetric advantage that Ukraine is trying to build when it focuses on technology," Pavliuk explains.

F-16s transfer to Ukraine

Earlier, Ukraine's allies announced the creation of an aviation coalition to provide Ukraine with modern F-16 fighters. The coalition is led by the Netherlands and Denmark.

Recently, it was officially announced that the first group of Ukrainian pilots had completed the basic training program in the UK and started training on F-16s in Denmark.

In late December, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that the Dutch government had decided to prepare the first 18 F-16 fighter jets for delivery to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the head of Defense Intelligence Ukraine, Kyrylo Budanov, said he expected to see the fighters in the sky this spring.