Ukraine is eyeing dozens of US-made F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets that have been retired by the Australian Royal Air Force as part of its efforts to secure more Western-made aircraft.
According to AFP, Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko said Kyiv has asked Canberra about the condition of 41 F/A-18 jets that are stored in an air base north of Sydney.
“There has been a request for information,” Myroshnychenko said. “Ukraine is looking at fighter jet capabilities, including this one.”
Last week, The Australian Financial Review reported that discussions were underway between Australia, Ukraine, and the US on sending the 41 jets to Kyiv. Sources told the newspaper that the US was “favorably disposed” to the idea of giving the F/A-18s to Ukraine.
When President Biden first gave the green light for European countries to send F-16s to Ukraine, US officials said the administration supported training Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation aircraft, which include the F/A-18.
Providing fighter jets would mark a significant escalation of Australia’s support for Ukraine. So far, Canberra has pledged about $340 million in military aid for Kyiv, including armored vehicles, drones, and 155-millimeter howitzers.
Russia has strongly warned the US and its allies against providing F-16s and other Western-made aircraft, but the Biden administration isn’t as concerned about escalating the war as it was earlier in the conflict and has brushed off Moscow’s warnings.