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Ukraine conflict: Sweden links Gripen transfer to Ukraine to its NATO membership

Sweden is exploring options for the transfer of Gripen combat aircraft to Ukraine, but it will only do this after it has been admitted into the NATO alliance. (Saab)

Sweden has touted the possibility of transferring Saab JAS 39 Gripen combat aircraft to Ukraine, but only once its accession into the NATO alliance has been concluded.

Swedish Minister of Defence Pål Jonson announced the offer on 6 October as part of a wider raft of Swedish military support for Ukraine.

“Today, Sweden announced the 14th military support package for Ukraine worth approximately USD200 million,” Jonson said. “The government also presented an assignment to the Swedish Armed Forces to analyse and report on the conditions for strengthening Ukraine through [the transfer of the] JAS 39 Gripen. Support in the form of [the] JAS 39 Gripen would be conditional on Sweden first becoming a member of NATO.”

As noted by Jonson, the Swedish Armed Forces will submit its report by 6 November, at which time Supreme Commander General Micael Bydén will deliver his recommendations to parliament for the forthcoming defence bill.

News of the offer came about six weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in late August that his country's pilots had been flying the Saab Gripen fighter in Sweden, and that discussions were being held with the Swedish government for their transfer to Ukraine.

The single-seat and single-engined Gripen C (and/or the twin-seat and single-engined Gripen D operational trainer variant) would be a valuable addition to the Ukrainian Air Force inventory, in that it is a highly capable multirole combat aircraft that is designed to be both easy to sustain and cheap to operate (arguably, Ukraine's three chief requirements in a combat jet right now).

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