A government official from the Netherlands on Thursday said his country would consider supplying F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine if Kyiv made such a request.
Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Wopke Hoekstra made the statement about the jets during a parliamentary debate, according to the Dutch website NL Times. Hoekstra reportedly said the Dutch Cabinet would mull over a request for F-16s with an “open mind,” adding that there would be “no taboos” for the delivery of regular equipment to the Eastern European country.
John Spencer, a retired U.S. Army major and chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Madison Policy Forum, told Newsweek on Friday that the addition of F-16s to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s forces would have a noticeable impact at a time when Russian forces have made recent gains on the battlefield.
“It would give Ukraine what it doesn’t have now, which is a much larger air force capability,” Spencer said. “It would be a huge add to Ukraine.”
Hoekstra’s comments about F-16s came on the same day that Dutch Minister of Defense Kajsa Ollongren said the Netherlands would be willing to cover the costs for Leopard tanks to be sent to Ukraine as part of a coalition of allies.
“That is definitely something that we would be willing to do,” Ollongren told Bloomberg News about such a plan regarding the Leopards. “We are all waiting to hear what the German position is on this, but I’m an advocate to trying to find a solution and trying to send tanks to Ukraine.”
Her comments regarding Germany was in reference to a Friday meeting at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. The U.S.-led meeting of Ukraine’s allies centered on military support for Zelensky, and the topic of German-made Leopard 2 tanks was one of the main talking points.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III told reporters Friday that the meeting ended with Germany still undecided on whether or not to allow Leopard 2 tanks to be sent to Ukraine.
If a deal with the Netherlands for F-16s comes to fruition, however, Ukraine would at least be given a formidable weapon in the air, according to Spencer.
“F-16s have multi-role platform. It can do close air support and air supremacy type of roles,” Spencer said.
He also added that a government official floating the idea of such an offer doesn’t mean a plan has been established, and pointed to the U.S. rejecting a plan last year by Poland to transfer MiG-29 fighter jets to a U.S. base in Germany.
If the F-16s deal comes together, though, Spencer said the fighter jets “would be a great addition to their capabilities, especially in preparing for spring offense.”
Newsweek reached out to the Netherland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.