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Norway to send 22 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine after US approval.

| Defense News Army 2024

As reported by Nettavisen on April 11, 2024, the United States has approved Norway's request to transfer 22 F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. This move is part of a larger agreement that also involves the Netherlands and Denmark, who together have been authorized to send a total of 65 F-16s to Ukraine. The Norwegian Ministry of Defense stated that the specifics regarding the timeline of their donation are being finalized in discussions with Ukraine and the other nations involved in this initiative.
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The F-16 Fighting Falcon, developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force, is a multirole jet fighter that originally served as an air superiority day fighter. (Picture source: Norway MoD)

The involvement of Norway in this initiative began at the NATO summit in July of the previous year, where it was disclosed that Norway would participate in a coalition focused on training Ukrainian personnel to eventually operate and maintain F-16 combat aircraft. Following this summit, Norway dispatched several F-16s to Denmark to aid in the training of Ukrainian pilots and support staff. Although the specific number of F-16s to be donated and their readiness for combat have not been finalized, clarity is expected following another NATO summit scheduled in Washington this July.

It's noteworthy that not all of the 22 Norwegian F-16s designated for transfer are currently in a condition suitable for immediate combat. Some of these aircraft are intended to provide parts and other materials essential for maintaining operational capabilities. This information is pertinent given the prior arrangement Norway had with Draken International, an American company. Initially, Norway had agreed to sell 12 airworthy F-16s to Draken International, but this transaction was suspended. These jets are now expected to be included in the fleet provided to Ukraine.

Ukraine is set to receive a substantial number of F-16 fighter jets from various NATO countries. Specifically, Denmark has 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, though the timeline for this donation has not been specified​. Furthermore, the Belgian government said it will provide an undisclosed number of F-16 fighters to Ukraine in 2025.

The strategic value of these aircraft for Ukraine’s defense is significant, according to Lars Peder Haga, an associate professor at the Norwegian Air Force School. The adaptation of these F-16s into Ukraine's air force is critical for its development over the next few years. The success of this integration, as Haga notes, will depend heavily on the types of weapons systems included and the proficiency of Ukrainian forces in employing these technologies.

Ukraine's air force is primarily equipped with older Soviet-era aircraft, necessitating an upgrade to more contemporary systems. The requirement for at least 100 Western fighter jets has been identified as necessary to replace the outdated fleet. Therefore, the provision of these F-16s is an important addition to the Ukrainian Air Force, despite statements from some Ukrainian officials to the contrary. However, the quick deployment of such a large number of aircraft is constrained by the insufficient infrastructure and support equipment at Ukrainian air bases.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon, developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force, is a multirole jet fighter that originally served as an air superiority day fighter but has been adapted to perform various roles in all weather conditions. Since its initial production approval in 1976, more than 4,600 units have been manufactured. The aircraft is equipped to handle both air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attacks. Among its design features are a frameless bubble canopy that enhances pilot visibility, a side-mounted control stick for improved maneuverability, and a reclined seat to mitigate the effects of g-forces on the pilot. The F-16 also incorporates features intended to reduce its radar profile, along with advanced avionics systems capable of supporting a wide range of weapons and equipment, including missiles and bombs.

In its operational capacity, the F-16 can fulfill multiple functions including tactical air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare. It employs an advanced radar system, specifically the AN/APG-68, which facilitates enhanced detection and tracking capabilities, allowing for engagement with multiple targets simultaneously. The agility and power of the F-16 are supported by a high-performance turbofan engine, which aids in both offensive and defensive maneuvers during combat scenarios. Continuous upgrades across its various versions have enabled the F-16 to maintain operational effectiveness and compatibility with modern air force requirements worldwide.


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