Sweden considers providing Ukraine with Gripen fighter jets matter of time
Even a relatively small number of aircraft, say 10, would be of great benefit to Ukraine, both operationally and morally
This is reported by Politico.
In recent weeks, Sweden's center-right government has been cautiously preparing the ground for a potential deployment to Ukraine following announcements by European neighbors Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands that they plan to send F-16s to Ukraine.
This month, Defense Minister Pål Jonson said he had instructed Swedish military leaders to study the potential impact of providing various types of support to Ukraine's capabilities, including exporting or donating Gripen aircraft. According to him, the military should report back by November 6.
Stefan Ungerth, an air defense specialist at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, called the provision of the aircraft to Ukraine "a matter of time."
Other experts suggest that it could take up to a year before Swedish fighter jets fly over Ukraine, as pilots and engineers need time to train. Still, the aircraft could have a big impact.
"Even a relatively small number of aircraft, say, 10, would be of great benefit both operationally and morally to Ukraine," Ungerth said.
The potential deployment of the Gripen by Stockholm comes amid growing concern in Kyiv that the unwavering military support of the West, especially the United States, could be shaken. However, the publication notes that in Sweden, as well as in other Scandinavian and Baltic countries, where geographic proximity to Russia heightens security concerns, there are few signs of any concerns about helping Ukraine. Moreover, support for arms supplies to Ukraine among Swedish citizens is among the strongest in Europe, according to polls.
The Gripen could significantly help Ukraine control its airspace. The fighter jet is considered relatively cheap and easy to maintain, and can operate from shorter, narrower runways, including improvised ones on straight stretches of highway. This reduces the risk of crowding at the base.
Analysts at the Royal United Services Institute, a British think tank, noted in a report last year that the Gripen is specially equipped to counter Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missile radars.
For reference. The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a fourth-generation Swedish multi-role fighter developed and manufactured by Saab. Work on the aircraft began in 1979, and in 1988 the aircraft took off for the first time. On November 1, 1997, the JAS 39 was officially adopted by the Swedish Air Force. The fighter was exported to various countries such as the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Thailand and Brazil. The Gripen took part in the international military operation in Libya, where it performed patrol and reconnaissance missions. The maximum speed at high altitude is 2130 km/h, at sea level - 1225 km/h. The combat range is 700 km (with a payload of 2000 kg). The Gripen is equipped with a 1×27-mm Mauser BK-27 cannon with a 120-round ammunition capacity.
In May, the Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Ruslan Stefanchuk, met with Swedish Foreign Minister Jan Knutsson in Sweden and called for the transfer of Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine.
On August 19, during a visit to Sweden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that test flights on Gripen aircraft had begun with the participation of Ukrainian pilots. With the Swedish leader, he discussed in detail the future steps for Ukraine to receive these aircraft. However, Sweden says that they need these aircraft to protect their own territory.
On September 12, it became known that the Swedish government would discuss with the armed forces the provision of JAS 39 Gripen fighters to Ukraine.
As of mid-September, pilots from Ukraine have successfully completed introductory training on the fighter jets. The Minister of Defense does not rule out sending the JAS Gripen to the Ukrainian Air Force.