Norway pledges US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Norwegian air force retired its fleet of 57 F-16s last year

Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, left, and Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shake hands before a meeting in Kyiv. Reuters
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The Norwegian Prime Minister pledged to donate US-made F-16 combat aircraft to Ukraine during a visit to the country on Thursday, joining an effort led by the Netherlands and Denmark.

Ukraine has wanted to build a fleet of F-16s for a long time because of their destructive power and global availability.

The fighter jet is equipped with a 20mm cannon and can carry bombs, rockets and missiles.

“We are planning to donate Norwegian F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, and will provide further details about the donation, numbers and time frame for delivery, in due course,” Norway's Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said in a statement.

Mr Stoere met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv earlier on Thursday and announced donations of anti-aircraft missiles and other equipment.

“The donation of these F-16 jets will significantly strengthen Ukraine's military capabilities,” Norway's Defence Minister Bjoern Arild Gram said in the statement.

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Many Nato allies have F-16s – originally designed in the 1970s – making it easier to find spare parts compared with the Russian planes currently used by Ukraine.

Last year, the Norwegian air force retired its fleet of 57 F-16s and later agreed to sell 32 of them to Nato ally Romania in what Mr Stoere has said was a “fixed and settled” deal.

A further 12 aircraft are due to be sold to a private company providing training for the US Air Force, although this deal has yet to receive final approval and some analysts have said these jets could be suitable for a donation to Ukraine.

Of the 13 remaining F-16s, the Norwegian Defence Ministry said last year many were too costly or hard to repair and might be placed in a museum, used for parts or sent for scrapping.

Norway has replaced its F-16s with the successor model F-35.

Updated: August 24, 2023, 11:02 PM