Norway set to donate six F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine

Norway marks first delivery of used F-16 fighters to Romania at Rygge air station

OSLO (Reuters) -Norway will donate six F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine to help it in defense efforts against Russian air attacks, the Norwegian government said in a statement on Wednesday as NATO leaders attended a summit in Washington.

Leaders of NATO member states are poised to unveil new aid to Ukraine to help it defend itself following Russia's invasion in February 2022.

Hoping to change the course of the war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants the 32-member alliance to send more weapons and money, and to offer security guarantees.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said deliveries of the F-16s were planned to start in 2024.

"Combined with air defence systems, the fighter jets will be vital to enabling the Ukrainians to defend themselves against Russian air attacks," Stoere said in a statement.

The prime minister first announced that Norway would donate the F-16s to Kyiv in August last year, but didn't say how many would be given.

Since then, Oslo has sent two F-16s jets to Denmark to be used for the training of Ukrainian pilots.

F-16s have been on Ukraine's wish list for a long time because of their destructive power and global availability. The fighter jet is equipped with a 20mm cannon and can carry bombs, rockets and missiles.

A senior NATO official said this week that Ukraine had not yet amassed the munitions and personnel it needs to mount its own large-scale offensive operations.

Denmark has committed to donate 19 jets in total, while the Netherlands has promised to deliver 24 aircraft. Both countries have been driving forces behind an international coalition to supply Ukraine with F-16s.

The Norwegian air force has replaced its own F-16s with the successor model F-35.

(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Louise Breusch Rasmussen, editing by Anna Ringstrom and Bernadette Baum)