De Croo: 'We need our F-16s for another two to four years'

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo is cautious about the fate of Belgium's F-16 jets when they are withdrawn from service. Belgium still needs the planes for a period of two to four years, he said, while not ruling out their use in Ukraine.

The Belgian military has ordered new F-35 fighter jets from US manufacturer Lockheed Martin to replace its old F-16s, but the first F-35s are not expected to be delivered until 2025. "We still need our F-16s for a while because it takes time to deliver the F-35s," De Croo said in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

In-depth analysis

"If we no longer need the F-16s and the analysis shows that they are at the end of their service life, the question is what the potential of these aircraft is for Ukraine," he said. "For example, they could be used in Ukraine only for training purposes and not for combat missions. That's why we asked the ministry of Defence to carry out in-depth analysis. But this is for the long term, because we need them for another two to four years."

Belgium's old F-16s could, for example, "be used in Ukraine only for training purposes and not for combat missions".

Belgium decided a few months ago to join an F-16 coalition led by the Netherlands and Denmark. Unlike those two countries, Belgium will not be providing bombers that are at the end of their service life, but it will contribute to the training of Ukrainian pilots. Another factor is that the Netherlands and Denmark will receive their F-35s, which will replace the F-16s, earlier than Belgium.

On Friday, the Belgian government confirmed its decision to train six Ukrainian instructors and four mission planners who will then train Ukrainian pilots and other personnel. In addition, the Belgian military will send a team of three military personnel to a training centre for Ukrainian F-16 pilots in Denmark.



Related news

Website preview
Belgian F-16s in no condition to send to Ukraine, Defence reports
Belgian army leadership say Belgian F-16s will not be sent to Ukraine when they are no longer in use in Belgium, De Standaard reported on Monday.
Website preview
Zelensky thanks Belgium for training F-16 pilots
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Belgium for training F-16 pilots in a video released on Saturday evening. The Belgian government confirmed its participation in the training of Ukrainian F-16 pilots on Friday.

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels