Norway will become the third country to donate F-16 fighter jets to Kyiv to bolster its Soviet-era air force, Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said on Thursday.
“We are planning to donate Norwegian F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine, and will provide further details about the donation, numbers and time frame for delivery, in due course,” Store said in a statement that confirmed earlier media reports.
The announcement came as Store made a surprise visit to Kyiv on Thursday -- Independence Day in Ukraine -- as the country pursues a grinding counteroffensive against Russian forces in the east.
According to Norwegian news agency NTB, which spoke to the prime minister during his visit, Norway will give Kyiv between five and 10 planes, most likely in the lower range.
Contacted by AFP, the prime minister’s office did not confirm that report.
Norway also announced Thursday it would supply Kyiv with Iris-T anti-air missiles, demining equipment, and a 1.5 billion kroner ($141 million) aid package for the purchase of gas and electricity this winter.
Of the 57 F-16s Norway officially has up for sale, 32 have already been sold to Romania, and up to 12 have been sold to US group Draken International, but have not yet been delivered.
According to NTB quoting Store, the latter transaction has been cancelled.
Norway becomes the third country after Denmark and the Netherlands to pledge F-16s to Ukraine.
Copenhagen has said it will donate 19 planes, while The Hague will deliver 42, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.