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Denmark Confirms Transfer of Entire F-16 Fleet to Ukraine Following US F-35 Acquisition.

| Defense News Army 2024

On April 21, 2024, during an interview with Euromaidan Press, Denmark's Ambassador to Ukraine, Ole Egberg Mikkelsen confirmed Denmark's intention to transfer its remaining fleet of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine following the sale of 24 F-16s to Argentina. This decision is part of Denmark's broader shift to the newer F-35 model, aligning with similar moves by other European nations, a group that recently included Portugal.
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This delivery is part of a coordinated effort by several NATO countries, which are together committed to providing Ukraine with 65 F-16s in total. (Picture source: Denmark MoD)

As of 2023, Denmark's F-16 fleet includes 34 F-16AM and 10 F-16BM fighter jets, with 30 of these 44 aircraft operational. Not all of these aircraft will go to Ukraine, however. As reported by Army Recognition on April 17, 2024, a portion has been sold to Argentina, totaling 24 jets. This sale addresses Argentina's longstanding need to replace its Mirage aircraft, which were retired in 2015 and faced acquisition challenges due to a British embargo on military equipment containing UK components.

Argentina explored various options, including considering the JF-17 Thunder developed by China and Pakistan. However, the election of President Javier Milei led to the confirmation of the purchase of Danish F-16s, a decision influenced by geopolitical considerations, particularly the potential impact of Chinese influence in the region. Therefore, the US authorization in October 2023 allowed for the purchase of the Danish F-16s, which was formalized on April 16, 2024, by Argentine President Javier Milei and Defense Minister Luis Petri. The total cost of the acquisition is estimated at $650 million, covering both aircraft and ammunition.

With Argentina purchasing 24 F-16s, Denmark is left with 19 F-16s to be transferred to Ukraine. This delivery is part of a coordinated effort by several NATO countries, which are together committed to providing Ukraine with 65 F-16s in total. Denmark has specifically committed to providing 19 F-16 jets, which will be delivered in several batches. The Netherlands has indicated that it will donate 24 F-16 jets, although the timeline for this donation has not been specified. Furthermore, the Belgian government has announced its intention to provide an undisclosed number of F-16 fighters to Ukraine in 2025. Additionally, on April 11, 2024, the United States approved Norway's request to transfer 22 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

As noted by Lars Peder Haga, an associate professor at the Norwegian Air Force School, Ukraine's air force, predominantly equipped with older Soviet-era aircraft, requires an upgrade to more contemporary systems, highlighting the importance of integrating these F-16s for its future development. However, the successful integration will depend on factors such as the types of weapons systems included and the proficiency of Ukrainian forces in employing these new aircraft. The provision of F-16s is set to partly address this need, despite some statements from Ukrainian officials suggesting otherwise. Nevertheless, the rapid deployment of a large number of aircraft is hindered by insufficient infrastructure and support equipment at Ukrainian air bases.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon was developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force and initially served as an air superiority day fighter. Since its production began in 1976, over 4,600 units of this multirole jet fighter have been manufactured. It is designed to handle both air-to-air and air-to-surface combat roles under various weather conditions. The aircraft includes several design features such as a frameless bubble canopy for increased visibility, a side-mounted control stick for maneuverability, and a reclined seat to reduce the effects of g-forces on the pilot. Furthermore, the F-16 has elements designed to decrease its radar visibility and is fitted with advanced avionics capable of supporting a diverse range of weapons and equipment.

In terms of operational use, the F-16 fulfills multiple functions including tactical air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare. It utilizes the AN/APG-68 radar system, which enhances its capability to detect and track multiple targets simultaneously. The performance of the F-16 is supported by a high-performance turbofan engine, facilitating various combat maneuvers. Continuous updates to various models of the F-16 have allowed it to remain compatible with the requirements of air forces around the world and maintain its operational capabilities.


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