Swedish government studies Gripen fighter delivery to Ukraine

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The Swedish government is poised to commission the Swedish Armed Forces to investigate the feasibility and implications of sending second-hand Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine, according to local media reports.  

The move comes in response to a request from Ukraine to provide Western fighter jets in support of its fight against Russia. This review intends to assess how such a handover would impact Sweden’s defense capabilities, the timeline for replacing the provided Gripen, and the logistics surrounding the training of Ukrainian pilots and ground personnel.  

A defense committee chaired by Swedish Minister for Defense Pål Jonson will be held on September 14, 2023, to discuss the conditions of this risk study, Sverige Radio, the Swedish public radio, reports. 

During a visit to Sweden in late August 2023, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reported holding discussions with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson about the delivery of Gripen fighters. 16 to 18 of the 90 Gripen fighters operated by the Swedish Air Force are reportedly considered for transfer. 

The aircraft is considered a candidate of choice for the Ukrainian Air Force, as it was designed to be operated from rough airstrip or improvised road bases, with minimal infrastructure, in accordance with the dispersed operations doctrine of Sweden [and Finland – ed. note]. 

Dispersed operations allow an air force in wartime to complicate enemy targeting by multiplying operating locations. The concept, popular during the Cold War-era, found renewed interest in the doctrines of Western armed forces, especially after observing the ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russia.  

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