Eleven NATO members agreed on Tuesday to start training Ukrainian pilots on US-made F-16s in Europe this August, the first step toward getting the American-made fighter jets to the war zone in Ukraine.
According to POLITICO, the training will begin in Denmark and will also be held in Romania once a support station is established in the country. The first Ukrainian pilots are expected to complete their training by early next year.
Denmark and the Netherlands are leading the program, and the other countries involved include Britain, Belgium, Canada, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden.
The Netherlands, Denmark, and Belgium are all expected to supply Ukraine with F-16s, but they have yet to make a final commitment. President Biden has given the green light for European nations to deliver F-16s, and the US has not ruled out the idea of sending their own to Ukraine.
The training plan was agreed to at the two-day NATO summit in Vilnius that started Tuesday. The provision of Western-made fighter jets to Ukraine marks a significant escalation of NATO involvement in the war and demonstrates how the alliance has been less and less worried about provoking retaliation from Moscow.
In March 2022, NATO officials ruled out the idea of sending Soviet-made MiG-29 fighter jets because they feared Russia would perceive the move as the alliance directly entering the war. But now, Poland and Slovakia have sent MiGs to Ukraine, and F-16s will eventually be on the way.