Sweden has announced that it will provide orientation training for Ukrainian pilots and related aviation personnel on the JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets. This is part of a new military aid package for Ukraine, which also includes funds for procuring weapons and establishing a supply solution for Swedish defence equipment systems.
The JAS 39 Gripen is a multi-role fighter jet developed by Swedish aerospace and defence company Saab. Adaptable to various missions and environments, it can perform air-to-air, air-to-ground, and reconnaissance tasks, and can operate from short runways and road bases.
The Ukrainian armed forces have expressed interest in operationally evaluating the JAS 39 Gripen as one of the most urgent measures to strengthen their air defence with a modern combat aircraft system. Ukraine has been seeking to acquire more advanced Western fighter jets to replace its ageing Soviet-era fleet, which is largely outmatched by Russia’s air power.
Sweden is one of the eight countries that have formed a “fighter jet coalition” to support Ukraine’s efforts to modernize its air force. The coalition also includes the UK, Poland, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium, Portugal, and France. Training has already begun on American F-16s, and options for training on Eurofighter Typhoon are also being discussed.
The orientation training for Ukrainian pilots on the JAS 39 Gripen will be conducted by the Swedish Armed Forces, which have extensive experience with operating and maintaining the jets. The training will cover the basic features and capabilities of the Gripen, as well as the procedures and safety measures for flying and servicing it.
The training is expected to start in July 2023 and last for several months. It is not clear how many Ukrainian pilots will participate in the training or whether they will have the opportunity to fly the jets themselves. The training does not imply that Sweden will sell or donate any Gripen jets to Ukraine, but it could pave the way for future cooperation and negotiations.