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After a Pause, Sweden Ready to Give Ukraine Gripen Fighter Jets Again

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Photo: After a Pause, Sweden Ready to Give Ukraine Gripen Fighter Jets Again. Source: Forsvarsmakten
Photo: After a Pause, Sweden Ready to Give Ukraine Gripen Fighter Jets Again. Source: Forsvarsmakten

Sweden is ready to provide Ukraine with Gripen fighter jets in the future, but it is up to Ukraine to decide whether to accept them.

This was stated in an interview with Voice of America by Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Bilstrom.

Explaining why Stockholm had previously suspended the delivery of the aircraft to Kyiv, the Foreign Minister said that the decision was made because Ukraine had concluded that having two fighter systems, both F-16 and Gripen, was "too much".

He added that these are complex systems, as it is not just a matter of getting the aircraft and training the pilots, and it would be too difficult to implement two of them at the same time.

"But that doesn't mean that Sweden is not open to continuing with Gripens if and when the F-16 programme is completed. Again, this is a matter for Ukraine, not for the Swedish government," said Bylström.

The minister pointed out that since Sweden could not continue working with Gripen fighter jets due to the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine, Stockholm decided to provide Kyiv with other options, including specialised ASC 890 aircraft.

"This will mean that we are providing something that Ukraine can use in coordination with the F-16s. This will give Ukraine the ability to better conduct air combat, observation and control of air combat," he said.

When asked if this meant that Sweden could still be open to Gripen deliveries in the future, he replied in the affirmative.

"Yes, yes. It's just a practical question... I would say that the F-16, which is now being introduced to the Ukrainian Air Force, will provide you with a great and important capability. When this is realised, then we can start talking about Gripen fighter jets... But this decision was made by the Ukrainian government, not the Swedish government," Bylström said.

Earlier, despite Sweden's plans to pause plans to supply Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he considered it necessary to train Ukrainian pilots to fly these combat aircraft.

Before that, the Swedish government decided that the supply of Swedish Gripen jets to the Ukrainian Armed Forces was inappropriate at this stage, as it would complicate the transition of the air force to F-16 aircraft.

As a reminder, Ukraine has signed a security agreement with Sweden. The agreement, among other things, provides for the prospect of a future transfer of Gripen fighter jets.

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