NATO-member Norway to donate F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, becoming third country to do so

The Norwegian prime minister Jonas Gahr Store announced Thursday that the NATO member Norway would donate F-16 fighter planes to Ukraine amid Kyiv’s difficult counteroffensive with Russia.

Gahr Store, speaking to Norwegian news agency NTB during his visit to Kyiv to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day said that Norway would provide F-16 aircraft to Ukraine. However, the number of F-16s will probably be lower than 10.

Gahr Store stated that he had informed Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the aircraft donation. He also said that Norway would be discussing the number of airplanes and the transfer schedule with Kyiv as well as other allies.

Gahr Store said, “But Ukraine can rely on Norway to contribute.”

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Norway will be the third European nation after the Netherlands, and Denmark, to donate F-16 aircraft.

Ukraine has been pleading for sophisticated fighter jets that will give it an edge in combat. The long-anticipated counteroffensive was launched without air support, leaving its troops vulnerable to Russian artillery and aviation.

The oil-rich Norway announced in February that it will donate 75 billion kroners ($7 billion) as part of a 5-year support package to Kyiv, making Norway the largest donor to Ukraine.

The money will be divided evenly over five years between military and humanitarian assistance, with 15 billion kroner ($1.4billion) per year.

Gahr Store announced on Thursday that Norway will also donate anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine. “Air defense is crucial to Ukraine’s capability to protect civilians, front-line infrastructure, and military units from any type of Russian attack.”

Gahr Store released a statement saying that this was one of the biggest Norwegian donations to Ukraine of military equipment to date.

Norway has been considering sending F-16s into Ukraine for a long time. Norway received its first F-35 in January. Norway will replace its F-16 fleet with the new F-35 fighter jets.

The Netherlands and Denmark both announced last week that they would donate F-16 aircraft. Denmark has said that it will be donating 19 aircraft, while the Netherlands have not stated how many they will donate.

This week, the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited several European countries including the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway, but he skipped Norway.