Australia and the U.S. are reportedly discussing gifting 41 retired Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine, helping fulfil part of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s relentless global quest for air combat assets.
Sources cited by the Australian Financial Review (AFR) newspaper said Washington, which recently gave permission to other Western allies to supply Ukraine with advanced fighter jets, including U.S.-made F-16s, is favourably disposed to the idea of delivering the F/A-18s to Kyiv from Canberra’s reserves.
The transfer would require permission from the U.S. as it owns intellectual property on the F/A-18. According to the report, Washington is “favorably disposed to the idea.”
The retired Hornets of the RAAF are currently scheduled to be scrapped or sold to a private company after serving between 1984 and 2021.
They are steadily being replaced by 72 fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets as Australia works to build up its assets in the increasingly troubled Indo-Pacific region.
Robert Potter, an Australian security expert advising the Ukrainian government, confirmed negotiations were underway, but a specific deal is yet to be finalized, the AFR wrote.
The bulk of the planes would take little work to be brought up to flying conditions, while others could be cannibalized for scrap parts.
In March this year, Finland also signaled that it was open to discussing the delivery of F/A-18 Hornets to Ukraine.
However, it backtracked and later ruled out such a possibility at least until 2026, when it is slated to receive its F-35 fighter jets.
The U.S. has already joined a coalition to provide Ukraine with American-made aircraft, the F-16s.
Zelensky said earlier on June 6 that Kyiv’s military is expected to receive a “significant number” of F-16 jets.