Belgium has confirmed its role in the “F-16 coalition” to train Ukrainian pilots.
This collaboration, spearheaded by the Netherlands and Denmark, aims to deliver F-16 fighter-bombers to Ukraine and cultivate a workforce skilled in operating them, Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder announced.
Since the onset of the Russian invasion, Belgium has contributed €280 million in military aid to Kyiv.
Training initiatives and deployments
Belgium will prepare six Ukrainian instructors and four mission planners who will later instruct Ukrainian pilots and F-16 operators. The Defence Minister also highlighted that a trio of Belgian soldiers will join an F-16 pilot training center in Denmark shortly.
Denmark’s Skrydstrup air base, situated in the country’s south, is hosting this training. The Danish army disclosed that eight Ukrainian pilots are already in training there and plan to hand over eight F-16s to the Ukrainian forces by year’s end.
In 2024, Belgium will dispatch two F-16B two-seater training planes to Denmark, alongside around fifty soldiers, mostly technicians, to facilitate the F-16s’ deployment, Dedonder added.
“Our commitment underscores our support for modernizing the Ukrainian military,” the minister affirmed. She reiterated that Belgium stands firmly behind its industry’s service proposal, valuing their decades-long expertise.
These latest resolutions reinforce Belgium’s ongoing assistance to Ukraine since the invasion began on 24 February 2022. “We’re working closely with international partners to bolster Ukraine’s military resilience,” Dedonder emphasized.
Comprehensive support for Ukraine
Beyond the F-16 coalition, Belgium aids Ukraine in multiple capacities. Dedonder pledged continued scrutiny of support requests from Ukraine, ensuring coordination with allies in the Ukraine defence contact group. “Our aim is a coordinated approach, highlighting Belgian and international solidarity with Ukraine,” she said.
She also brought attention to a project with the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and the Belgian industry. This effort focuses on updating 40 M113 vehicles, armored vehicles crucial for transporting Ukrainian ground troops. “The first ten M113s are ready for delivery to Ukraine, with more to follow soon,” Dedonder confirmed.