This article was originally published in English
The internationally renowned Gripen aircraft have the capabilities that Ukraine desperately needs in its counteroffensive against Russia.
After years of trying to obtain F-16 fighters from the United States and other NATO members, Ukraine may soon have another source of modern warplanes.
According to Swedish reports, the Scandinavian country’s government is considering sending Ukrainians Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets to help them in their fight against Russia, adding another dimension to the Nordic and Baltic countries’ involvement in the war. .
And although Sweden’s membership in NATO remains dependent on the opinion of Hungary and Turkey (the latter country is trying to obtain its own F-16 fighter jets from the United States), the Swedish air force has already been training Ukrainian pilots .
At a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson in August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Gripen the “pride of Sweden,” stating that “I firmly believe that the Gripen can make our freedom much more Safer”.
After the protracted effort to persuade the United States to authorize the delivery of F-16s from its European allies, the prospect of a quicker delivery of the Gripen will be tempting for the Ukrainians, who are fighting hard against Russian positions, particularly in the southeast of the country.
Despite decades of being militarily neutral, Sweden spent much of the Cold War concerned about the possible action of the Soviet Union in the Baltic area, which is why it developed a strong defensive capacity, which in turn has made it an exporter of military material.
And the Gripen is one of their most fearsome products.
Manufactured by aerospace giant Saab AB, the Gripen has certain advantages over the F-16, some of which make it especially suited to the Ukrainian war.
For starters, it was designed with the right adversary in mind: as British defense think tank RUSI explains, the plane “is explicitly designed to counter Russian SAMs (surface-to-air missile systems) and fast jets by flying very low and having an internal electronic warfare suite, and to be easy to maintain and operate from dispersed bases with mobile teams in vehicles.”
The Gripen also has the advantage of being able to take off and land on damaged runways and even ordinary roads, and can be staffed entirely by a small ground crew without needing to return to a well-equipped air base. In fact, it is specifically designed so that dispersed forces can launch it in a very short time in difficult environments.
That could be very important for Ukraine, whose bases have been hit hard by Russian missiles and artillery far from the front line. And while delivery of F-16s from certain European operators has been given the green light, the prospect that another supplier could provide a more versatile asset is tantalizing.
However, much of Gripen’s impact could be due to the narrative.
A series of articles in the European and American media this summer quoted unnamed Western officials, especially Americans, expressing concern that the Ukrainian counteroffensive has not yet turned the tide against Russia.
Ukraine has worked to counter this perception, in part by explaining more and more clearly what weaponry it needs from the West. He is also highlighting recent successes against Russia, including the attack on a ship and a cruise missile-carrying submarine in the port of Sevastopol.
While boasting that both Russian ships appear to have been damaged beyond repair, the Ukrainian military also confirmed that the attack was carried out with Storm Shadow, a British missile system.
Thus continues kyiv’s effort to draw a direct line between Western contributions and major blows against the Russian military. Securing one of the world’s best fighters from a country that joins NATO as a direct consequence of the war would reinforce the impression that Ukraine has the firm support of the West, no matter how difficult the reality on the ground may be.
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