Espreso. Global

Sweden is open to providing Ukraine with Gripen jets, Kyiv is not ready yet - minister

11 July, 2024 Thursday
16:10

Foreign Minister Tobias Billström indicated Sweden's readiness to eventually provide Gripen fighters to Ukraine and clarified why the transfer process was paused

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He shared this during an interview with Voice of America's Ukrainian service.

When asked why the Gripen transfer to Ukraine was halted, Billström explained it was because Ukraine was offered the opportunity to acquire F-16 fighters.

"We need to understand that Ukraine was offered the chance to obtain F-16 fighters, which are more prevalent within NATO. More NATO countries operate F-16s than Gripens. The Swedish government did not make this decision. Ukraine concluded that managing two different fighter systems simultaneously—F-16s and Gripens—would be overwhelming. It's not just about receiving aircraft and training pilots; simultaneously operating both systems is quite challenging," said the minister.

He emphasized that Sweden remains open to future discussions about Gripen fighters once the F-16 program is finalized, noting that this decision lies with Ukraine, not Sweden.

"The introduction of F-16s will offer Ukraine significant and valuable capabilities. After this is accomplished, we can revisit the topic of Gripen fighters. Sweden and its government have no restrictions on this discussion post-F-16 introduction. However, this decision rests with the Ukrainian government," he added.

Billström also mentioned that following the suspension of Gripen transfers due to the F-16 arrival, Sweden opted to provide Ukraine with other available capabilities.

"We delivered the ASC-890 airborne surveillance system. This system equips Ukraine to effectively coordinate with F-16s, enhancing capabilities in aerial combat, reconnaissance, and air battle management," the minister highlighted.

For reference, the ASC-890 Airborne Surveillance and Control system utilizes advanced AESA technology. Its radar can cover extensive areas or focus on specific priority zones with a high update rate. It has an effective surveillance range of over 500,000 square kilometers horizontally and extends more than 18,200 meters in altitude.

Above the sea surface, the system can detect and track fighter jets, hovering helicopters, cruise missiles, and even jet ski-sized sea targets.

  • On May 28, the Swedish Defense Minister announced the suspension of plans to supply Gripen fighters to Ukraine to accommodate the introduction of F-16s.
  • On July 10, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Denmark and the Netherlands had begun the process of transferring F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine.
     
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