‘Hornet’ Fighter Jets May Go to Ukraine as Finland PM Weighs Options


Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Mirella Marin talks to media at an EU leaders summit on October 7, 2022, in Prague, Czech Republic. Inset: an F/A-18 “Hornet “fighter jet landing on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman on the eastern Mediterranean Sea on May 23, 2022. Marin has discussed the possibility of providing Ukraine with Finnish “Hornet” jets.PHOTOS BY THIERRY MONASSE/ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
  • Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin indicated her country may be open to donating “Hornet” fighter jets to Ukraine.
  • Ukraine has reportedly requested to have trilateral negotiations with the United States to discuss the potential transfer of the jets.
  • Antti Kaikkonen, Finland’s defense minister, said he does not want to give any of his country’s Hornets to Ukraine.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin on Thursday did not rule out the possibility that Finland could send F/A-18 “Hornet” fighter jets to Ukraine to aid the country in its war against Russia.

“We have made the decision to acquire new fighters, and yes, I think we can discuss what we will do with this fleet that we are giving up,” Marin said to the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat when asked about Hornets, referencing an upcoming delivery of new jets.

In a separate story, Helsingin Sanomat reported that Ukraine had submitted a formal request for trilateral negotiations between Kyiv, Washington, D.C. and Helsinki to discuss the transfer of Hornet jets from Finland. That request came weeks after Marin met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.

During the March 10 visit, Marin was quoted by the Finnish Broadcasting Company as saying she would consider giving Ukraine decommissioned Hornets, but she backtracked days later by saying “no one promised Ukraine Finnish Hornet jets.”

During her interview with Helsingin Sanomat, Marin remained noncommittal about providing the jets, yet did not close the door on the possibility.

“This is a question that needs to be examined very carefully,” Marin said, before noting that Finland had to consider its own security given it shares a large border with Russia.

Helsingin Sanomat asked about the proposal Ukraine reportedly submitted to discuss the transfer of the jets. Marin said she couldn’t discuss details of what she characterized as a confidential matter.

“On a general level, I can state that Ukraine has asked Finland for help, just like all other EU member states and partner countries, in order to get more armaments to the country,” she said. “Their needs especially concern ammunition and all the material that is consumed every day in Ukraine, but they also need heavier equipment, both tanks and air defense and also fighters.”

When pressed further if Finland had declined the request for Hornets made by Ukraine, Marin said she would possibly be able to address the topic when Finland announces its next aid package to Zelensky.

“The line on supporting Ukraine is unified. The discussion on, for example, the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine is widely held at the European level, and many countries have made these decisions. We cannot escape this discussion in Finland either, but this is in front of us as well,” Marin told the newspaper.

Despite Marin seemingly being open to Finland at least hearing a proposal on Hornets, Finnish Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen on Thursday said he did not want to give any of his country’s Hornets to Ukraine, according to Reuters.

“My view as Finland’s defense minister is that we need these Hornets to secure our own country,” Kaikkonen said at a news conference. “I view negatively the idea that they would be donated during the next few years. And if we look even further, my understanding is that they begin to be worn out and will have little use value left.”

Guy McCardle, the managing editor of Special Operations Forces Report (SOFREP), told Newsweek that Hornets are “solid, combat-proven” jets.

As to how Hornets compare to the MiG-29s that Ukraine is set to receive from Poland and Slovakia, McCardle said that the two types of jets are “fairly well-matched.” He added that “the MiG has a higher top speed at 1,519 miles per hour but a lower unrefueled range. The Hornet boasts superior avionics.”

Newsweek reached out to Marin’s office via email for comment.


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