The Swedish government is cautiously preparing the ground for the potential transfer of Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine.
According to Politico, the decision of Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands to transfer F-16s to Ukraine has made the provision of Gripen jets a more discussed item of Swedish aid.
It may take up to a year before the Swedish aircraft arrive in Ukraine.
Swedish Gripen jets can help Ukraine defend its skies
The Gripen could significantly help Ukraine defend its skies from Russian air attacks. Gripen jets are relatively cheap and easy to maintain and can operate from shorter, narrower runways, including makeshift runways on straight stretches of motorway.
This reduces the risk of aircraft being assembled at a large base and destroyed by a single enemy attack. In addition, the aircraft have special equipment to counter Russian fighters and surface-to-air radar systems.
Earlier, the Swedish government announced the allocation of the 14th military aid package to Ukraine and spoke about the preparation of a decision on the possible transfer of Gripen fighter jets.
Sweden examines the possibility of sending Gripen jets to Ukraine
Swedish Defence Minister Paul Johnson said that the Swedish Armed Forces and the Swedish Defence Armaments Agency were instructed to study the possibility of transferring or exporting Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine.
“The government has decided to instruct… to assess the conditions under which Sweden can contribute to the field of combat aircraft. We can do this by expanding our participation in the F-16 coalition or donating or exporting the Gripen system,” Jonsson said.
The assessment is expected to be ready by 6 November. Sweden might announce that it will provide Ukraine with the Gripen fighter jets on that day.
Sweden is a member of the aviation coalition aimed at providing Ukraine with fighter jets. Earlier, Ukrainian pilots and ground personnel had the opportunity to test Gripen aircraft in Sweden.
During Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to Sweden, providing Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine was on the agenda.
The new military aid package will be Sweden’s 14th to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began in February 2022, taking the total value of Stockholm’s military aid to just over 22 billion crowns.
Swedish Gripen fighter jets
This year, Ukrainian military pilots have completed their introductory training on Swedish fighter jets.
The induction training reportedly included test flights on aircraft and simulators and training for ground personnel.
As highlighted by many experts, Ukraine lacks air support to repel Russian troops, conduct counteroffensive operations faster and liberate Russia-occupied territories. For this, Kyiv needs modern Western aircraft. Ukraine will receive the US-made F-16 fighter jets at the beginning of 2024.
Gripen fighter jet capabilities
The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a fourth-generation multi-role fighter developed by Swedish company Saab AB. It was produced in 1979 and made its first flight in 1988.
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 has a 1×27 mm Mauser BK-27 cannon with a 120-round ammunition capacity.
Gripen fighters have been exported to 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.