According to The Australian Financial Review (AFR), Australia, the US, and Ukraine are discussing sending 41 Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18A/B Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine, rather than scrapping them as planned.
Since the US recently granted permission for other Western allies to supply Kyiv with advanced fighter jets, Washington is open to the idea of gifting Ukraine retired RAAF F/A-18 fighter jets, Euromaidan Press reports.
Seventy-five F/A-18A/Bs were acquired by the RAAF from 1985 to replace the ageing Mirage III fighter which had been in service since 1963. The first two aircraft were produced in the US, with the remainder assembled in Australia at Government Aircraft Factories .
In 2003 14 Hornets flew Airborne Tanker protection patrols over Iraq, as well as Close Air Support (CAS) sorties to assist ground forces. In 2015 six Hornets were deployed to the Middle East as part of Operation Okra.
“The retired F/A-18s are sitting in a hangar at the Williamtown RAAF base outside Newcastle (New South Wales, Australia, – Ed.) and unless sent to Ukraine, will either be scrapped or sold to a private sector aviation company, RAVN Aerospace [former AirUSA], to use in the US as “enemies” for military aviators to train against,” AFR wrote.
ccording to Australian security expert Robert Potter (that is advising the Ukrainian government) negotiations are underway but a specific deal has not been finalized at this time.
A separate source close to the discussions agreed “it made no sense to destroy perfectly good aircraft that he said could be operational within four months and used to help repel the Russian invasion.”
As already reported, besides being open to the idea of delivering retired RAAF F/A-18A/Bs to Kyiv, the US will allow its Western allies to supply Ukraine with advanced fighter jets, including American-made F-16s, in a major boost for Kyiv.
Ukraine has long sought advanced jets and President Volodymyr Zelensky hailed the move as a “historic decision”.
Countries can only resell or re-export American military hardware if the US approves it, so this decision clears the way for other nations to send their existing stocks of F-16s to Ukraine.
The F-16 and the F/A-18 are widely used by a number of European and Middle East nations as well as the US, which still manufactures both the aircraft.
CLICK HERE to read why the F-16 can be a game changer for Ukraine.
Photo credit: Royal Australian Air Force and U.S. Air Force
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