Ukrainian pilots to test JAS-39 Gripen in Sweden

Gastón Dubois

The Swedish Air Force prepares for the next 20 years

The Swedish Government decided to allow a group of Ukrainian airmen to be trained on the Saab JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft.

The announcement was made in the framework of the visit of Swedish Minister of Defense Pål Jonson and Minister of Civil Defense Karl Oskar Bohlin to Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy thanked the Swedish government for its decision to join the coalition of nations working to provide the Ukrainian Air Force with new fighter aircraft, and for launching an independent training program for Ukrainian pilots on modern Western-type aircraft.

“It is an opportunity for Ukraine to test and get a better understanding of the Gripen’s performance,” Defense Minister Pål Jonson said during an interview given to SVT Nyheter media.

Before the training can begin, the two countries must close some formal issues. Once this last stage is passed, a group of pilots previously trained in Ukraine will have a first approach to the Swedish weapon system through the use of simulators and eventually, they will be able to fly the JAS-39 Gripen.


After training, will the fighters arrive?

According to the Swedish Defense Minister, Ukraine wants to test the Gripen now, with the future structure of its defense system in mind. Although President Zelenskyy had already requested Gripen fighters, Stockholm had declined, as they have no surplus aircraft, and all those available are in active service.

See also: Think tank suggests transferring Gripen fighters to Ukraine as soon as possible

Other possible sources of Swedish fighters are the Czech Republic and Hungary, which each operating 14 JAS-39 Gripen C/Ds leased from Sweden. But these aircraft form the backbone of their respective air defenses and are not immediately available to Ukraine.

Gripen C
Hungarian Air Force JAS-39C Gripen

However, there is a possibility that they may agree to divest their Gripen and hand them over to the Ukrainian Air Force, provided that their NATO partners guarantee the integrity of their airspace by deploying allied fighter jets to perform air policing missions, similar to the Baltic Air Surveillance mission.

While the fact that Sweden is starting to train Ukrainian pilots on the Gripen is a clear indication that this aircraft could end up participating in the war against Russia, its implementation will require intense negotiations within NATO, and this takes time.

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