TechSweden suspends Gripen jet transfer to Ukraine amidst F-16 focus

Sweden suspends Gripen jet transfer to Ukraine amidst F‑16 focus

JAS-39 Gripen
JAS-39 Gripen
Images source: © Lic. CC BY-SA 3.0, Oleg V. Belyakov - AirTeamImages, Wikimedia Commons

3:16 PM EDT, May 28, 2024

Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson informed that Sweden has decided to suspend its plan to transfer Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine. The main reason was the request of allies, who suggested focusing on one model of fighter jets—American F-16s. Here’s a reminder of which jets are involved and their capabilities.

Jonson, quoted by the TT agency, emphasized that simultaneously introducing two different fighter jet systems could be problematic. However, the head of Sweden’s defense ministry added that he does not rule out the possibility that the issue of delivering Gripen jets to Ukraine may arise again. He noted that the Ukrainian side’s attention is focused on implementing the F-16 donation program.

Swedish Gripens not for Ukraine?

Last Tuesday, Jonson met in Brussels with defense ministers from other countries that are members of the Ukraine air defense coalition. This coalition supports Ukraine in fighting Russian aggression by providing F-16 jets from Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Norway, as well as air defense systems. The first jets are expected to arrive in Ukraine this summer.

During the campaign ahead of the June European Parliament elections in Sweden, opposition Social Democrats and the Center Party demanded that Gripen jets be handed over to Ukraine. Last fall, the government received a report on the potential impacts of such a donation on Swedish defense capabilities.

The conclusions contained in this document were not disclosed, citing secrecy. The possibility of delivering Gripens to Ukraine became more likely after Sweden joined NATO at the beginning of March this year. Ukrainian pilots had already participated in trial flights and tests on Swedish jets.

JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets

As previously reported, JAS 39 Gripen are multi-role aircraft considered among the best in their category. The jets produced by Saab and BAE Systems are approximately 46 feet long and can fly at speeds reaching 1,324 mph (Mach 2). Their primary armament is the Mauser BK-27 cannon, caliber 27 mm. The JAS 39 Gripen can also have missiles such as AIM-9 Sidewinder, IRIS-T 4, AIM-120 AMRAAM, MICA, AGM-65 Maverick, and Mark 82 bombs.

Meanwhile, American F-16 fighter jets, produced by Lockheed Martin, are slightly over 49 feet long and can travel at speeds close to 1,522 mph. This jet can carry approximately 180 weapons, with its primary armament being the M61A1 20 mm cannon.

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