Ukrainian pilots to train on Sweden’s Gripen jets, says minister

25 May, 08:24 PM
Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Photo:REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)

Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Photo:REUTERS/Ints Kalnins)

Ukrainian pilots will have the opportunity to undertake basic training on the fourth-generation Saab JAS 39 Gripen jet fighters, Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson said during a visit to Ukraine on May 25, as reported by Swedish TV channel TV4.

This initiative allows Ukrainian pilots to use simulators and test the Gripen aircraft, even though Sweden currently does not plan to provide Ukraine with these fighter jets for its defense.

Gripen fighter jets, which are more cost-effective and considered easier to learn than F-16s, were explicitly designed to defend Swedish airspace against Russian aircraft. They are also capable of landing on short runways and highways, making them an "ideal" choice for Ukraine's defense, according to The Economist.

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Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared on Telegram that his discussion with Pål Jonson covered various topics, including the ‘aviation coalition,’ situation on the battlefield, essential armaments for Ukraine's defense, Ukraine's peace formula, and Euro-Atlantic integration.

Earlier, Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine's Defense Minister, mentioned that Ukraine is hoping to receive several types of fighter jets from its allies, one of which will become its primary combat aircraft.

On May 19, UK PM Rishi Sunak announced that London, along with the United States, Netherlands, Belgium, and Denmark, agreed to aid in training Ukrainian pilots on Western fighter jets. The United States specifically pledged to support the training of Ukrainian pilots on fourth-generation fighter aircraft, including the F-16, a category that also includes the Eurofighter Typhoon and French Mirage 2000.

The White House noted that discussions over the following months will determine the schedule, the contributors, and the quantity of aircraft to be transferred to Ukraine, emphasizing that any delivered fighters must not be used by Ukraine to attack Russian territory.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry anticipates the arrival of F-16s this fall, and although President Zelenskyy couldn't provide a precise figure on the number of fighters to be transferred or a specific timeline, he assured his efforts to expedite their delivery.

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