Ukraine’s F-16 Program Gets a New Boost From Canada

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Canada’s defense department announced an additional $44.3 million package for Ukraine’s F-16 fighter jets program on Wednesday as Western leaders continue to take steps to bolster Kyiv’s air defenses.

Canadian Defense Minister Bill Blair announced the new deal prior to meeting with the Ukraine Defense Contact Group in Brussels. The package will help Ukraine pay for supplies and equipment for the F-16s, including spare parts, weapon stations, avionic components and ammunition.

Blair noted that Canada is already providing instructors, planes and support staff to help train Ukrainian pilots on the Western aircraft. Over 30 Ukrainian F-16 pilots are also undergoing language training at the Canadian Forces Language School.

This picture shows Belgian F-16 fighter jets parked at the Amari Air Base, Estonia, on March 31, 2022. Canada announced a $44.3 million boost to Ukraine’s F-16 program on Wednesday.

DIDIER LAURAS/AFP via Getty Images

“Canada is committed to deepening coordination and cooperation with allies and partners as we work together to strengthen our support for Ukraine’s self-defense and protect the rules-based international order,” Blair said in a statement.

According to Canada’s defense department, since Russia launched its full scale invasion in February 2022, Canada has committed over $1.7 billion in military assistance to Ukraine, including Leopard battle tanks, armored recovery vehicles, anti-tank weapons and ammunition.

Ukraine’s fighter jet program has been supported by several NATO allies. Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have all committed to donating F-16s to Kyiv’s forces. Training has taken place in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Romania and the United States.

“We are grateful to our Canadian friends for their staunch support. Despite the significant distance between our countries, we are bonded by shared values and a love of freedom,” the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine said in a post to X, formerly Twitter, Wednesday.

Newsweek reached out to Ukraine’s Defense Ministry via email for more information.

Wednesday’s meeting for the Ukraine Defense Contact Group was not attended by U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who canceled his plans to travel to Brussels after being admitted to the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday.

The meeting will be held virtually instead, according to the Pentagon. The Biden official has been battling prostate cancer but is expected to make a full recovery.

Additional U.S. aid for Ukraine has been held up by Congress for months.

President Joe Biden again urged House Republicans to bring a $95.3 billion aid package to a floor vote on Tuesday, which includes funding for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. The package, which designates $60 billion in aid for Kyiv, was passed by the Senate earlier the same day.

“Supporting this bill is standing up to Putin,” Biden said at a press conference Tuesday. “We can’t walk away now. That’s what Putin is betting on.”