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2 Feb, 2024 02:40

Ukraine rejected ‘flying trash’ warplane donation – media

Kiev reportedly refused to accept two squadrons of Australia’s retired F/A-18 Hornets despite lacking air power
Ukraine rejected ‘flying trash’ warplane donation – media

A senior Ukrainian Air Force official rejected a donation of Australian fighter-bombers, calling them “flying trash,” the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported on Tuesday. Kiev later changed its mind and asked for the planes months later, but the aircraft had already been scrapped.

The idea of handing over 41 of the Royal Australian Air Force’s retired F/A-18 Hornet jets was first floated last March. Two months later at the G7 summit in Japan, US President Joe Biden gave the green light to his Western allies to send American-made fourth-generation jets to Ukraine.

However, when Kiev was encouraged to make a formal request for the Australian planes, an unnamed Ukrainian Air Force official dismissed them as trash that Canberra was eager to offload, AFR wrote, quoting a defense contractor who was present during the talks.

“He called them ‘flying trash,’” the defense contractor said. “That basically killed the F/A-18 deal. Had he not done it they would have been flying over Ukraine now.”

By that time, Kiev had already begun talks with several of its Western sponsors about receiving F-16 Fighting Falcons. Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands have offered to donate some of theirs towards Ukraine’s war effort against Russia, while other countries have offered training for Ukrainian pilots.

F/A-18 fighter-bombers are also fourth-generation combat aircraft, but are heavier, two-engine jets manufactured by a different company. Ukrainian officials reportedly feared that the maintenance, ammunition, and training infrastructure would have been strained by the different needs of the two models, especially given that Ukrainian pilots mostly work with Soviet-model aircraft.

Talks once again touched on the F/A-18 Hornets in December, following Kiev’s failed summer counteroffensive. However, an Australian Defense Department spokesman told AFR that the jets were already in the final stages of being scrapped.

Similarly, Ukraine passed up the chance to obtain Australian MRH-90 Taipan helicopters, which were already being disassembled by the time Kiev asked for them.

“It’s a dumpster fire at the moment,” the defense contractor said. “Ukraine didn’t get its request letter in on time for the Taipans. They’re not good at paperwork.”

Kiev’s Western sponsors have promised that deliveries of F-16 jets will begin in 2024, with Denmark and the Netherlands pledging up to 61 of the fighter planes. Sweden has promised to donate some of its Gripen aircraft once the country is accepted into NATO.

Moscow, which has condemned Western military aid to Ukraine, warned that the fighter planes will be destroyed like other foreign-supplied armaments and will not affect the outcome of the conflict.