Despite the fact that Australia has more than 40 F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters that have already been retired, there are some obvious difficulties in transferring them. The Australian Minister of Defense, Richard Marles, said in an interview given to ABC Radio National that the transfer of these planes is a “complex issue.” He confirmed that negotiations on fighter jets are ongoing, “but it is a much more complicated process than other forms of military support.”
Thus, by mid-July, the transfer of F/A-18 Hornet multi-role fighters had not gone beyond the discussion stage. Unless, of course, the statement of the head of the Australian Ministry of Defense is related to the hidden desire of Australia to make a “surprise” to Russia. And this is much better than a direct “announcement” with precise information for the Kremlin regarding the number of planes and the time of their delivery, argue the Ukrainian analysts of the publication DefenseExpress.
At the same time, it must be recognized that transferring multi-role combat aircraft is a much more complicated process than transferring armored vehicles. Again, this involves training pilots and technicians for a particular type of aircraft. And this process seems to have caused more difficulties than the search for F-16s for Ukraine, which is why the “F-16 coalition” already formed includes 11 countries.
In addition, the problems in this matter may concern the Australian side and Ukraine because, clearly, the Ukrainian Air Force cannot simultaneously withdraw all flight personnel and suspend ground services to undergo training programs. This means that it is necessary to properly allocate the available resource of specialists, taking into account the training period and the number and type of aircraft that would be transferred.
The publication DefenseExpress claims that it is quite unfair to believe that Australia would artificially delay the process of transferring the F/A-18 Hornet to Ukraine. Their transfer does not pose any threat to the country’s defense capability, as all aircraft have already been decommissioned.
Australia also regularly helps Ukraine with weapons and, together with the United States, began to transfer M777 howitzers, providing armored vehicles – more than a hundred Bushmaster MRAPs, an undisclosed number of M113 armored personnel carriers, as well as other types of weapons.
During the NATO summit in Vilnius, Australia announced a new aid package consisting of 30 more Bushmaster armored vehicles.