Dutch government halts F-16 sale talks with Draken to deliver to Ukraine

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The Dutch government has announced that they have decided to stop negotiations for the sale of six F-16 fighter jets to Draken International.  

Both parties have agreed that the sale and delivery of these aircraft will no longer proceed, as reported by Dutch Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren and State Secretary Christophe van der Maat. 

Draken International is one of the leading private military contractors, which offers tactical aviation services to air forces, mainly in the form of airborne adversary support or “red air” by simulating the enemy in aerial combat. The contractor was among the seven companies that the Pentagon awarded $6.4 billion worth of contracts in October 2019 to provide realistic training to the US Air Force, as the latter struggled to generate training capacity internally.  

In 2012, discussions began between the Netherlands and Draken International to sell 12 F-16s aimed at strengthening the contractor’s fleet with fourth-generation fighters to enable the company to participate actively in competitive orders and tenders. However, the proposed sale did not take place, leading to a revised offer from the Netherlands to sell six F-16s to Draken. This offer is now off the table. 

Instead, the Netherlands will allocate the six aircraft initially earmarked for potential sale to Ukraine, adding to the 18 Dutch F-16s already scheduled for delivery. The European F-16 Training Centre (EFTC) at the 86th Air Base near Fetești, Romania, is scheduled to receive the 18 aircraft.  

“The Netherlands Ministry of Defense is readying 6 additional F-16 fighter aircraft for delivery to Ukraine,” Ollongren said. “This brings the total number to 24 F-16s. Ukraine’s aerial superiority is essential for countering Russian aggression.”

The facility will train Romanian pilots as well as those from allied and partner states, including Ukraine. Lockheed Martin, the fighter jet manufacturer, will provide technical support through its flight instructors and technical personnel. Five Dutch F-16s have already been delivered to the center. 

The F-16 is slowly being phased out of the Royal Netherlands Air Force fleet and will no longer operate past October 2024, progressively replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter.  

The Netherlands, along with Denmark, is leading an international coalition to supply Ukraine with US-designed F-16 fighter jets. 

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