Finland, which has applied to join NATO in response to neighboring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is reportedly considering providing Kyiv with F/A-18 Hornet combat aircraft.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin is open to transferring the US-made F/A-18 Hornet combat aircraft, YLE reported. The Finnish prime minister reportedly mentioned the possibility of sending combat jets to Kyiv during her March 10 visit.
Marin said such a discussion could be brought up in Finland since the country is purchasing new fighters to replace those it currently has.
The Prime Minister said, “I think we could discuss Hornet fighters – whether it would be possible to offer them to Ukraine, what kind of training is needed for this.”
She emphasized that all current discussions on fighter jets are in their earliest stages and that extensive cooperation between Western allies will be needed on this issue.
In 2021, Finland announced the acquisition of 64 5th-generation F-35A jet fighters from the US to replace its outdated fleet of F/A-18 Hornets. The first F-35 is anticipated to arrive in Finland in 2025.
On March 10, PM Marin traveled to Kyiv. She spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and attended a memorial service for Dmytro Kotsyubailo, a national hero who died in the battle for Bakhmut on March 7.
The new development comes as Polish and Slovakian government representatives have reiterated their request to allies to send fighter jets to Ukraine.
Warsaw and Bratislava claim to be prepared to transfer their Soviet-era MiG-29 jet aircraft to Kyiv. It is still unclear whether any other Western countries that support Ukraine are ready to back that move.
Ukraine has been requesting the West for fighter jets to bolster its defenses. Even though Kyiv has received promises of tanks, some of which have already arrived, there are still no indications that major nations, like the United States and Britain, will consent to send their warplanes.
Olaf Scholz, the chancellor of Germany, has ended the idea of providing fighter jets to Ukraine. On the other hand, France hesitates, stating there are “no taboos” about sending jets and that no proposals are being rejected but refusing to commit to sending any fighters.
Finland’s F/A-18 C/D Hornet
The American Boeing F-18 Hornet multirole fighter is the primary fighter aircraft of the Finnish Air Force. The plane was initially developed in the 1980s for the US Naval Air Force.
The Finnish Air Force selected the Hornet in 1992 to replace the Swedish Saab 35 Drakens and Russian MiG-21bis fighters. Despite competition from Swedish, French, and American bidders, the Hornet emerged as the winner. The Finnish Patria Ltd built most of the F-18 Hornet aircraft used in Finland.
The Ilmavoimat (Finnish Air Force) has 54 single-seat F-18Cs and an additional seven twin-seat F-18Ds, which it first purchased in the middle of the 1990s. Since then, the Finnish Air Force has modernized its planes to give them full ground-attack capabilities.
In recent years, Finland has repeatedly accused Russia of violating its territorial airspace and often launches its Hornets to intercept Russian aircraft close to its land and maritime boundaries.
In September 2022, Finland closed down a portion of one of its main highways for five days for the first time in decades, enabling its fighter jets, notably the F/A-18 Hornet, to practice landing and taking off on a reserve road runway.
The F-18C/Ds are expected to continue to serve as Finland’s primary combat aircraft until any replacement aircraft arrives.
So far, NATO countries and allies have resisted sending fighter jets to Ukraine, and in some cases, it even appears that some have pretty much ruled it out.
The US and UK were two nations that first rejected the idea of sending fighter jets to Ukraine. Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, previously stated that the Ukrainians should prioritize other military hardware rather than warplanes as their first goal.
According to Reed, one of the explanations for that is that the existence of Russian aircraft and the nation’s strong air defenses may prevent Ukraine from fully utilizing the benefits that fourth-generation fighters may provide.