Speaking to Breaking Defense, Ali Al Hashim, a Kuwait-based defense analyst has said that the US Marine Corps (USMC) is interested in taking over kuwaiti F/A-18s when they are retired from service (the country is currently fielding 27 legacy F-18 Hornets, plus six F-18D trainers).
Malaysia and Tunisia are said to be interested in acquiring those legacy Hornets, however, the USMC will have priority as approval is required from the US government before Kuwait can sell the jets to other nations.
“Kuwait cannot sell the legacy Hornets to another country without the prior approval of the US Navy,” said Hashim. “There are reports that the US Marines command appears to be interested in acquiring the Kuwait fleet of Hornets, and negotiations were underway between the two sides.”
According to Alert5, the USMC is planning to retire its F/A-18s in 2030 and has given its existing F/A-18 fleet some upgrades such as a new AN/APG-79(v)4 radar and ejection seats.
The Kuwait Air Force received the first two of 28 Typhoon jet fighters being built by Leonardo were last December, while the 28 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet block 3 were reportedly delivered last September by Boeing to the US Navy. Kuwaiti pilots training on the Typhoons will start flying the fighters to Kuwait during this year and well into the next one.
Hashim explained that transferring the Super Hornets to Kuwait will take longer than planned due to the delayed infrastructure work at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base because of the pandemic.
According to Abdullah Al Foudary, the former Kuwait Air Force commander, selecting the Super Hornet to replace the Hornets was a “natural and logical move.” Instead he said that the additional selection of the Typhoon came in line with a policy to “unify the platforms with other members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC),” an alliance of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
“Saudi Arabia and Oman had procured the Eurofighter Typhoon and Qatar was considering it and recently proceeded with the purchase,” Al Foudary pointed out. “The idea here is that GCC air forces would be easily interoperable and will also be able to support one another with spare parts if they all purchased the same platforms.”