TechUkraine may boost air fleet with Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters amid expectations of F-16 arrival

Ukraine may boost air fleet with Swedish JAS 39 Gripen fighters amid expectations of F‑16 arrival

JAS 39 Gripen
JAS 39 Gripen
Images source: © Saab
11:38 AM EST, February 23, 2024

In a conversation with Defense News, Mikael Franzén, Saab's Director of Marketing, asserted, "Should such a decision gain approval from the Swedish government, aircraft dispatch to Ukraine would be a relatively quick process. We are currently on track." Furthermore, he added, "There's considerable pressure, both within and beyond Sweden, to send Gripens to Ukraine. If the government gives the go-ahead, we are set to supply."

It is important to remember that in fall 2023, Ukrainian pilots underwent basic training on JAS 39 Gripen fighters in Sweden. Jussi Halmetoji, an ex-Gripen fighter pilot and Aviation Operations Advisor for Saab, explained to Defense News that while learning to fly is one aspect, operating combat systems is another game altogether. He states that getting trained on this type of machine for a limited set of missions typically ranges between 4 to 6 months.

JAS 39 Gripen: A potential asset for Ukraine

JAS 39 Gripen machines are highly rated in their category. These multi-purpose fighters are a product of Saab and BAE Systems. The development of these machines commenced in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The first JAS 39 Gripen took off in 1988. These 46-foot-long aircraft can reach speeds of up to Mach 2, roughly 1323 mph. Their primary weapon is a 27 mm Mauser BK-27 gun. Moreover, they can be equipped with missiles like the AIM-9 Sidewinder, IRIS-T 4, AIM-120 AMRAAM, MICA, or AGM-65 Maverick, and Mark 82 bombs.

The addition of JAS 39 Gripen fighters would significantly enhance Ukraine's fleet. These machines possess numerous features that are crucial from Kiev's perspective. They can be launched from temporarily assigned runways, such as a 2400-foot straight section of road. They are also uncomplicated to operate. As Łukasz Michalik, a WP Tech journalist, previously highlighted, "Restoring combat abilities (replenishing ammunition, refueling, diagnostics, performing necessary inspections) only requires 10-20 minutes, depending on the mission." Furthermore, estimates suggest that operating a JAS 39 Gripen for an hour is about 40% less costly than flying an F-16 for an hour.

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