Assistant Minister for Defence Matt Thistlethwaite has ducked recent rumours that Australia should send former Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets to assist Ukraine.
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The political pressure to send the retired twin-engine multi-role combat aircraft has been racketing up as the country attempts a counter-offensive in the Ukraine War.
International and Australian commentators have called for the Classic Hornets to be donated as military aid to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who have requested F-16 Fighting Falcon jet aircraft in their fight against Russian forces.
“Australia has made a pretty decent contribution to the effort in Ukraine. Bushmasters, personnel have been sent over to do training, the humanitarian support, the weapons and the ammunition,” Minister Thistlethwaite said during a media event on 9 June.
“Were obviously always assessing how Australia can contribute into the future, and there’s been some further requests that have been made by the Ukrainian government, they’re being reviewed at the moment.
“We’ll do all we can to support the Ukrainian people in the Ukrainian defence force. This is a conflict that is illegal in terms of the Russian invasion. And we want to do as much as we can to support Ukraine.
“We’re constantly reviewing Australia’s contribution. (Sending F/A-18s) that’s a decision that will be made by the defence minister.
“We’ll make sure that we do as much as we possibly can to support the Ukrainian people.”
The Australian Department of Defence has previously confirmed there is an ongoing sale of 46 former Royal Australian Air Force Hornets to RAVN Aerospace company (previously-Air USA) from March 2020.
There is also a retired fleet of F/A-18A/B Hornet jets reportedly left by the Australian government at US Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.
The planes themselves were originally introduced into Australian service in the 1980s and aren’t guaranteed to be compatible with current Ukrainian weapon systems or even the pilots expected to operate them. Ukraine air personnel have traditionally used Eastern European-designed Sukhoi and Mikoyan fighter jets as opposed to the American aircraft used by Australia.