Belgium to give Ukraine F-16 in 2025 as Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to Brussels
Belgian Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder, a video grab

Belgian defence minister Ludivine Dedonder said her country will begin the transfer of its F-16 aircraft to Ukraine in 2025 as it gradually replaces them with more modern F-35s.

Her announcement comes as Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy makes a surprise visit to Brussels to take part in the 16th meeting of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group and meet with Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo.

Speaking on local radio station RTL, Ms Dedonder said the exact timing of providing Ukraine F-16 will depend on how quickly the Belgian Air Force switches to the new F-35 aircraft.

Belgium follows Denmark and the Netherlands, which were the first to announce in August they would transfer to Ukraine their F-16 fighter jets.

Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen said earlier this week her country was working to "expand and deepen" a coalition of countries committed to deliver F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.

Ukraine, which has long been pushing for modern fighter jets, has indicated it needs four squadrons, that is 48 F-16s, to effectively deter Russian aggression.