Video footage has been released showing pilot training activities being provided to Ukrainian air force personnel using Lockheed Martin F-16s, just months before Kyiv is expected to begin operating the western fighter.

Training is being provided at the Royal Danish Air Force’s (RDAF’s) Skrydstrup air base for Ukrainian pilots, technicians and groundcrew, NATO says.

In footage released by NATO, a Ukrainian pilot – identified only by the callsign ‘Moonfish’ – describes his experience to date flying the US-built fighter.

Ukrainian F-16 pilot

Source: Danish Ministry of Defence

‘Moonfish’ is among Ukrainian air force personnel receiving instruction in Denmark

“It is really a super-fun jet to fly,” he says. Comparing it to the Ukrainian air force’s RAC MiG-29 fighter which he previously operated, he adds: “the F-16 is definitely more agile. The moment you think of something, it turns.

“We study a lot, we fly a lot, we prep for the missions,” he continues. “The Royal Danish Air Force has taken a huge responsibility on their shoulders for carrying out this mission. I can only imagine how hard it is for them to train us for day-to-day operations, but they are being nothing but supportive.”

Describing the service’s repeatedly updated F-16s as still “very modern aircraft”, RDAF chief of staff Major General Jan Dam notes: “It’s competitive with the best western fighters, and I’m sure that the Ukrainian air force will benefit from that.”

Filmed by the Danish defence ministry, an extended-length video shows operations using a two-seat F-16D trainer with the RDAF registration ET022. Cirium fleets data shows this airframe to have been in use since 1988.


Source: Danish Ministry of Defence

Two-seat trainer ET022 entered Danish air force service in 1988

A coalition of European partners – Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway – have pledged to gift Ukraine secondhand F-16A/Bs as their own air forces transition to operating Lockheed’s stealthy F-35A. The nations are expected to provide Kyiv with a combined 61 of their aircraft, under previously announced commitments.

“The first [Ukrainian] jets will enter service later this year,” the western military alliance says, without providing a more detailed timeline.

Operating secondhand F-16s will enable the Ukrainian air force to bolster its capabilities beyond using its current Soviet-era MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-27s.

RDAF F-16 front

Source: Danish Ministry of Defence

Denmark is among four European F-16 operators due to donate surplus fighters to Kyiv

“Speedy, highly manoeuvrable and capable of carrying a wide range of ordnance, the F-16 will significantly strengthen Ukraine’s ability to continue defending its airspace and territory against Russia’s war of aggression,” NATO says.