Ukraine will not receive its first batch of F-16 fighters in 2023, admitted Ukrainian Air Force spokesperson Yuriy Ihnat on national television on Dec. 23.
Ukraine’s partner countries are currently preparing the first batch of fighter jets for delivery.
“Everything is going according to plan, as stipulated by the agreements with our partners within the established coalition,” said Ihnat.
“They are helping us to switch to a new type of aircraft for us – the F-16.”
The F-16s that Ukraine will receive will be modified. The countries that have these fighters in service have been improving them “to the best of their ability,” Ihnat added.
Read also: What are Ukraine’s war goals for 2024
“The modifications are divided into so-called blocks,” said the Air Force spokesman.
“They consist of blocks 15, 20, 30, and up to 70. Each aircraft was improved to the best of the country’s ability because modernization is not an easy process. A certain amount of onboard equipment is being replaced, mainly radar (onboard radar station), which allows us to see the enemy from afar and track more air targets.”
The F-16 represents a step towards the modernization of Ukraine’s military aviation as a whole, Ihnat said.
“The step towards the F-16 is not just a step towards this model,” he added.
“In the long run, if our pilots, our entire base, airfield infrastructure, engineers, and ground staff are ready to fully operate this type of aircraft, then we can already dream of more modern models.”
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a telephone conversation with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Dec. 22 that his government had decided to begin preparations to send the first 18 F-16 fighters to Ukraine.
In August, the Netherlands, along with Denmark, promised to provide Ukraine with 61 aircraft, with 42 and 19 warplanes coming from each country, respectively. Later, Norway confirmed its intention to supply F-16s. Belgium will also provide Ukraine with F-16s starting in 2025.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Ukraine may receive its first F-16s in the first half of 2024.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine