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Gripen aircraft tested by Ukrainian pilots: Viable option

Gripen aircraft tested by Ukrainian pilots: Viable option Photo: Yurii Ihnat, spokesman for the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (Getty Images)

Ukraine and its partners are exploring the option of acquiring Swedish Gripen fighter jets alongside the F-16. Ukrainian pilots conducted tests on these planes, but it wasn't merely for training purposes, stated Yurii Ihnat, the spokesperson for the Air Force of the Ukrainian Armed Forces during a telethon.

"The primary combat aircraft will be the F-16... The possibility of acquiring Gripen is also being considered, and the Swedish side may transfer the quantity it currently possesses to Ukraine. We're not disclosing the exact number. However, the F-16 remains the main combat aircraft. If a decision is made regarding the Gripen, it could be a good option for us," he said.

According to the spokesperson, Sweden is considering developing a newer version of the Gripen fighter, and Ukraine could have the opportunity to receive these aircraft. Ihnat added that Ukrainian pilots have already tested Gripen fighters in Sweden.

"During the first visit to the Kingdom of Sweden, the commander of the Air Force left specialists there when the meeting was taking place. They explored the possibility of providing Ukraine with these aircraft and conducted introductory flights to understand how it works and provide comprehensive information on whether we can or cannot obtain this technology," explained the spokesperson.

He emphasized that these were not pilot training sessions. Military training will only commence after a decision is announced regarding the transfer of Gripen aircraft, as consultations are still ongoing.

Gripen fighters

Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a fourth-generation multi-role fighter designed for versatility. It formally belongs to the fighter class, but it is, in fact, a multi-role aircraft capable of performing various tasks.

In late May, the Swedish government allowed Ukrainian pilots to undergo training on the JAS 39 Gripen fighters. They will have the opportunity to train on simulators and conduct trial flights.

The Office of the President stated that the transfer of Swedish Gripens to Ukraine would need to be coordinated with other countries, similar to the F-16 supply.

Later, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson stated that the country needs aircraft for its own defense since the application for joining the Alliance has not been completed. However, he did not rule out the possibility of transferring fighters to Ukraine in the future.