Finnish politicians divided over the donation of Hornet planes to Ukraine

HELSINKI, March 25: Politicians in Finland are divided over the country’s possibility of donating Hornet fighter jets to Ukraine as per kyiv’s request.

The controversy started when Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin visited Ukraine in early March and said her government might be willing to donate Hornets to the country.

Finland bought Hornet fighter jets from the United States in the mid-1990s. By 2030, they will be replaced by US-made Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jets, the first of which will arrive in the country in 2026.

Marin’s comments about the Hornets created confusion and sparked criticism in Finland, as neither the president nor the defense and foreign ministers knew that Marin intended to open a discussion about the Hornets donation. According to public information, the matter had not been discussed before.

The debate turned heated this week. Finnish media reported on Thursday that Ukraine had approached the Defense Ministry and asked Finland to discuss donating some of its Hornets.

Defense Minister Antti Kaikkonen later confirmed these reports. According to him, Ukraine hoped that the United States would also participate in the discussion about the Hornets.

However, the Finnish defense forces did not consider this to be a realistic scenario.

On Thursday, Kaikkonen said Finland would need Hornet fighters for its defense for years to come. He added that by the time his country receives new fighter jets later this decade, the Hornets will have reached the end of their useful lives.

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Thursday that the Hornets won’t have much to offer once they reach the end of their lifespan.

Esa Rautalinko, chief executive officer (CEO) of Finnish defense company Patria and chairman of the board of the Finnish Defense and Aerospace Industries Association, told national broadcaster Yle on Friday that he believed the planes Finnish Hornet combat aircraft will still be usable when they are retired. of the service in the country, but he did not believe that the delivery of the jets would necessarily be effective.

The first new F-35 fighters will arrive in Finland only in 2026, and the last in 2030. Until then, Finland needs the Hornets themselves. In addition, delivering the planes to another country would also require, among other things, the provision of training and upgrading of equipment, he said.

Marin did not rule out delivering some Hornets even before the new replacement fighters arrive in Finland. This question needs to be carefully reviewed, Marin told reporters on the sidelines of the European Union summit in Brussels on Thursday.

Earlier, Marin had told reporters that no one had promised Ukraine Hornet fighters. “Finland has not offered a policy on the issue, but I see that we have the capacity and the opportunity to have this discussion,” he said.

The United States has been unwilling to hand over fighter jets to Ukraine, and in Finland only the prime minister has spoken out about the possible donation of Hornets to Ukraine, the Finnish daily Ilta-Sanomat reported.

According to the newspaper, the chairman of the Finnish Parliament’s Defense Committee, Antti Hakkanen, has asked the government for an explanation of how the Hornets issue is progressing. “Marin is in some ways in his own line,” Hakkanen said, adding that Hornet fighters are among Finland’s most important weapons systems.

He said the Finnish government should quickly clarify its position on the issue.

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