F-16s, Patriots and NASAMS: What Ukraine Is Getting So Far from NATO Summit

Heading into the final day of the NATO summit, Ukraine has secured new pledges of military aid, with fresh announcements still expected before the end of the alliance’s meeting in Washington.

U.S. President Joe Biden said as the summit got underway on Tuesday that Washington, Berlin and Bucharest would deliver three additional Patriot air defense batteries to Ukraine.

The Netherlands and “other partners” will contribute components to get a fourth new Patriot battery operational, the president said, adding that Italy will send another of its SAMP-T air defense systems.

“In addition, in the coming months, the United States and partners intend to provide Ukraine with dozens of tactical air defense systems,” Biden said. This will include German-made self-propelled Gepard anti-aircraft guns, NASAMS medium-range air defense systems, and variants of IRIS-T systems.

Air defense systems, and supplies of missiles to keep them firing, have been a key priority for Kyiv as it contends with consistent Russian missile and drone bombardment.

In a separate statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Canada had promised an additional CAD 500 million, or around $367 million, in military aid. A statement from Kyiv’s presidential office did not elaborate on the contents of the aid package.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky answers questions as NATO leaders gather for the 75th NATO Summit on July 9, 2024, in Washington, DC. On Wednesday, Zelensky teased a fresh announcement on Western-made jets.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the first of the pledged F-16 fighter jets—which Ukraine has long pleaded for—were en route to Ukraine from Denmark and the Netherlands.

In a separate statement from Biden, Dutch Prime Minister Dick Schoof and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, published by the White House, the three countries said “the transfer process for these F-16s is now underway, and Ukraine will be flying operational F-16s this summer.”

Ukraine is thought to be getting upward of 80 jets in total, with some of the aircraft based outside of Kyiv’s territory to shield them from Russian strikes.

But the timelines for getting the advanced aircraft up and running in the country has been bogged down in delays. Before the jets take to the skies, F-16 donor countries have said, Ukrainian personnel must complete their training programs, and the necessary infrastructure and facilities must be up and running in the country.

The jets will be a significant upgrade to Ukraine’s air force, battered by more than two years of war against the Russians’ superior and larger fleet. Russia has used its aircraft, flying outside of the reach of Kyiv’s air defenses, to launch devastating aerial guided bomb strikes on Ukraine.

On the final day, there may be future aid commitments from NATO’s 32 members to round off the summit.

In his daily evening address on Wednesday, Zelensky also teased a fresh announcement on Western-made jets, saying: “Very soon, there will be a decision regarding the F-16s. We are increasing the number of aircraft available to Ukraine.”

NATO also confirmed on Wednesday that its members would provide “a minimum baseline funding” of more than $43 billion in security assistance for Ukraine in the next year.

Shortly before the summit, the U.S. unveiled new military aid focusing on air defense systems and interceptor missiles, as well as artillery ammunition and anti-tank missiles.

On Sunday, the U.K.’s new defense secretary, John Healey, said during a visit to the southern Ukrainian city of Odesa that London would send a fresh aid package to Ukraine, which would feature more artillery guns, 250,000 rounds of ammunition and close to 100 anti-armor precision missiles.

A tranche of aid pledged by the U.K. in April, which included around 1,600 missiles for both air defense systems and for striking enemy assets, would arrive in Ukraine within 100 days, the U.K. government said on Sunday.