Ukraine appears likely to have a Lockheed Martin F-16 capability by this summer, according to governments involved in providing fighters to the beleaguered eastern European nation.

Denmark is poised to hand over an undisclosed number of F-16s to Ukraine in the summer, as training for both pilots and ground crew continue, according the Danish defence ministry and a statement from the Air Force Capability Coalition (AFCC), which comprises Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway and the USA.

Danish F-16s

Source: Danish defence ministry

Donated F-16s will play a role in recapitalising Ukraine’s depleted air force, which has been worn down by two years of conflict

“It is difficult to set a fixed timetable for the donation of F-16 fighter jets, because there are several conditions that must be met in order for Ukraine to use the donated aircraft,” says Danish defence minister Troels Lund Poulsen.

“But I have informed the conciliation circle that we are now working on getting it into a higher unity this summer, when we expect to be able to hand over the first F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, if the preparations proceed as planned.”

The handover is contingent on training of Ukrainian personnel, as well as the establishment of logistics and infrastructure in Ukraine.

Poulsen’s remarks followed a meeting of the AFCC steering group on 21 February. A statement from the meeting said that the partners aim to ensure that Ukraine gets a “fully functional F-16 capability” by the summer.

“AFCC members coordinate to meet the requirements to ensure Ukraine receives a fully functional F-16 capability, including Denmark’s initial donation of aircraft in the summer of 2024, and other allied donations later this year,” says the AFCC.

“The AFCC reaffirmed its unwavering support to help Ukraine protect its skies.”

In addition to Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway are also donating used F-16s to Kyiv.

While the number of F-16s that will eventually make their way into Ukrainian service is unclear, it could come to a few dozen jets.

The aircraft are sorely needed to replace losses of Ukrainian aircraft since Russia’s invasion in February 2022.

Comprehensive air defence networks have ensured that neither Russia nor Ukraine has been able to achieve air superiority, resulting in a grinding war of attrition on the ground.