Ukraine wants 120 Western-style fighter jets. Australia could supply a large part of this – the chances are good.
Ukraine could soon be a big step closer to having a fleet of modern western fighter jets thanks to a delivery by Australia of 41 F/A-18 Hornets. The negotiations for this are well advanced, reports the “Australian Financial Review”. The US government, which must issue an export license for the transfer of the jets, has already signaled its approval, it is said.
“The United States has a keen interest in procuring modern fighter jets for the Ukrainian Air Force,” the newspaper quoted a source familiar with the negotiations as saying. “There are many formal hurdles for this, but the time seems to have come.” Another source said that scrapping the “absolutely intact aircraft” would be absurd given the threat to Ukraine from Russia.
Kiev hopes above all for the F-16
In fact, the jets, dubbed the Hornet, were soon to be dismantled or sold to the United States to serve as training targets for the US Air Force. Instead, they could be available to Ukraine in as little as four months, they say. A “handful” of the 41 machines would probably serve as a spare parts store, but the rest would still be operational for several years. Australian pilots could also take part in training their Ukrainian colleagues, the newspaper writes.
Remedy against Russian glide bombs
Great Britain and the Netherlands are currently working on a fighter jet coalition for Ukraine, but concrete commitments about deliveries are not known. However, several countries have already announced that they will participate in the training of Ukrainian pilots. Recently, the Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov also asked for the delivery of Eurofighters, the Bundeswehr’s main fighter jet. Great Britain, Spain and Italy also use this combat aircraft.
The F/A-18 Hornet is comparable in capabilities to the F-16. The twin-engine aircraft was developed by the US manufacturer McDonnell Douglas in the late 1970s and entered service in 1983. Designed for the US Navy, it was the primary fighter jet on the Nimitz-class aircraft carriers for decades.
In the meantime, the F/A-18 Super Hornet developed by Boeing has taken over this task. In addition to the USA and Australia, Spain, Switzerland, Canada, Finland, Malaysia and Kuwait also have F/A-18 Hornets. The machine can fight both enemy aircraft and targets on the ground.
The quick availability of the Australian jets would be important for the Ukraine – they could bridge the time until the first F-16 machines are operational. Time is of the essence for Kiev because, since the spring, Russia has increasingly relied on so-called glide bombs, “dumb bombs” equipped with wings and GPS that can be fired from great distances and are more difficult for Ukrainian air defenses to intercept. Modern fighter jets like the F/A-18 Hornet could help.