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Eight Ukrainian pilots begin F-16 training in Denmark

FILE PHOTO: Danish Defence Minister Morten Bodskov visits a Danish Air Force F-16 jet at the airport

By Johannes Birkebaek

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark has begun training eight Ukrainian pilots in flying F-16 fighter jets as part of its commitment to donate aircraft to Ukraine, the Danish armed forces said on Tuesday.

Denmark and the Netherlands on Sunday pledged to donate F-16s to Ukraine, fulfilling a longstanding wish by Ukraine that it says will help strengthen air defences and help its counter-offensive against Russia's 2022 invasion.

The eight pilots have arrived at the Danish military air base in Skrydstrup along with 65 personnel who will be trained in maintaining and servicing the jets, the Danish armed forces said in a statement.

Greece will also take part in the training of Ukrainian air force pilots for F-16 jets, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday.

Denmark will supply Ukraine with 19 F-16 jets and will deliver the first six jets around New Year.

The Netherlands, which has 42 F-16s, has yet to decide how many jets it will supply to Ukraine.

Denmark currently has 43 F-16 jets and will for safety reasons not disclose how many of them are active, the Danish statement said.

(Reporting by Johannes Birkebaek; Editing by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen, William Maclean)