The Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNAF) sent five of its out-of-service Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon fighters to Romania, which will be used in a training center for Ukrainian and Romanian pilots.
The aircraft, without RNAF markings, arrived on November 7 at Fetesti Air Base in Romania, about 120 km from the border with Ukraine and less than 500 km from Russian air bases in Crimea.
Despite the location, the Netherlands has guaranteed that the F-16 fighters will only fly in NATO airspace.
According to the country, Lockheed Martin must provide training and maintenance for the aircraft, which continue to belong to the Netherlands.
The European F-16 Training Center (EFTC) was an initiative of the Netherlands and is expected to make 12 to 18 fighters available soon. The aircraft will be transferred in due course to the Ukrainian Air Force.
Romania is also reinforcing its fleet of F-16 fighters, of which it has 14 aircraft acquired from Portugal around 10 years ago. The country signed an agreement with Norway in 2022 to receive 32 F-16A/B version aircraft.
Furthermore, the country approved the purchase of 32 5th generation F-35 fighters and is awaiting approval from the US government to complete the acquisition.
Ukrainian Air Force pilots have already been receiving F-16 training in the US since last month. It is being conducted at Morris Air National Guard Base in Tucson, Arizona, and also includes ground maintenance crews.