A member of the Swedish parliament has said the country should agree to sell Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine.
MP Magnus Jacobsson expressed his position in an interview with Ukrainian news website Guildhall, arguing that the sale should take place despite Sweden’s law banning the sale of armaments to a state involved in a war.
Following the announcement, Jacobsson took to Twitter and said: “My view is simple. Ukraine wants to buy JAS and we should say yes. It is not more difficult than that.”
Noterar att en del undrar över om det är realistiskt med JAS. Min uppfattning är enkel. Ukraina vill köpa JAS och vi borde säga ja. Svårare än så är det inte. https://t.co/0Nwiazl8dB
— Magnus Jacobsson (@magnusjacobsson) November 29, 2022
Jacobsson also drew attention to a recent comment made by Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov who said he is optimistic the country is on its way to receiving Western-made fighter jets, such as the F-16, the F-16 or the Gripen.
A contested issue
Delivery of combat aircraft to Ukraine has long been a controversial issue. With its fleet of Soviet-made fighters and attack aircraft sustaining constant losses in its resistance to the Russian invasion, Ukraine has called for the supply of modern jets on multiple occasions.
Meanwhile, even provision of old MiG-29 fighters, used by some NATO countries such as Poland and Bulgaria, was refused on the grounds that it would risk further escalation of the conflict.
There is some evidence that Ukraine has managed to reactivate some of its old aircraft thanks to the supply of spare parts from NATO countries. However, the deliveries of actual combat aircraft, although proposed on more than one occasion, has not materialized.
The cheapest option
The JAS 39 Gripen, a single-engine multirole fighter jet manufactured by Sweden’s Saab, has been proposed as one of the best options for Ukraine both by Ukrainian and Western observers.
Developed in the 1980s, the Gripen was designed to operate from austere areas with as little infrastructure as possible.
In addition, a number of reports have shown the Gripen as having significantly lower operational cost compared to other Western jets, such as the F-16, the F-18 and the Rafale.
The jet is also comparatively cheap. On paper, one Gripen C costs between $35 million and $40 million, almost half the price of its competitors, although the actual system price might be higher and almost on par with the Rafale and the F-18.
The latest variant, the Gripen E, is significantly pricier, although both Reznikov and Jacobsson likely had the Gripen C and D in mind, both older variants currently operated by Sweden, Czechia, Hungary and several other countries.