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    Belgium Boosts Ukrainian Air Force with Generous Gift of 30 F-16 Jets Amid Ongoing Conflict

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    Belgium has committed to supplying the embattled nation with 30 F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, bolstering Ukraine’s air force capabilities in the ongoing struggle against Russian aggression.

    This agreement is part of a wider coalition effort that will see around 115 F-16s provided to Ukraine from various NATO allies, with the first batch expected to be delivered by the end of 2024.

    The Ukrainian Air Force has long relied on an aging fleet of Soviet-era aircraft, which are outmatched by the technologically advanced Russian Aerospace Forces.

    According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the country needs up to 130 F-16 jets to effectively contend with Russian air power.

    With the latest pledge from Belgium, the total commitment nears that figure, offering a glimmer of hope for a shift in the aerial dynamics of the war.

    Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, in response to questions about the operational use of the donated jets, stated, “Everything which is covered by this agreement is very clear: it is for utilization by the Ukrainian defense forces on Ukraine territory.”

    This stipulation underscores the delicate balance donor countries maintain, providing assistance without escalating hostilities beyond Ukrainian borders.

    The delivery of F-16s, however, is contingent on several factors.

    Key among these is the training of Ukrainian pilots, a process that is ongoing in various locations, including the UK, the US.

    Furthermore, the readiness of donor countries to part with their F-16s is tied to their receipt of replacement F-35 Lightning II jets.

    Complicating matters is the current halt in the F-35 program, which has paused deliveries due to software issues, potentially delaying the transition and subsequent F-16 handover.

    Once in Ukrainian hands, the F-16s are expected to revolutionize the country’s air force.

    Capable of carrying an array of Western munitions and equipped with modern radars, the jets can conduct aggressive air-to-ground and air superiority missions.

    As reported by a Ukrainian army trooper, the present inability to counter Russian glide-bombing campaigns has left positions and cities vulnerable to devastating strikes.

    The F-16s, armed with advanced AIM-120 air-to-air missiles, could potentially push back Russian bombers and change the dynamics of aerial warfare in the region.

    Relevant articles:
    Ukraine Is Getting 30 More F-16 Fighter Jets to Battle Russia in the Sky , The National Interest Online, 05/31/2024
    Ukraine Handed F-16 Stipulation From NATO Ally, Newsweek, 05/29/2024
    The Ukrainian Air Force Wanted Four Squadrons Of F-16s. It’s Finally Getting Them., Forbes, 05/28/2024
    Belgium Will Transfer 30 F-16s To Ukraine, The Aviationist, 05/28/2024

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