Ukraine has begun discussing with Sweden the possibility of receiving Gripen jets to boost its air defences, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Saturday after meeting Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson.
Zelenskiy’s visit is his first to Sweden since Russia’s invasion in February 2022 and the talks about obtaining Gripen jets, which he cast as preliminary, follow approval from the United States for Denmark and the Netherlands to send F-16 fighters to Ukraine.
“Today we discussed in detail the future steps regarding the possibility of opening the subject of receiving Swedish Gripens,” Zelenskiy said at a joint news briefing with Kristersson, adding that the topic would be central to his meetings with other Swedish officials.
In June, the Swedish government said it would give Ukrainian pilots the opportunity to test its Saab-made Gripen fighter jet, but it has also said that it needs all its planes to defend Swedish territory.
Defense cooperation agreement
Saab is not just a Swedish defense giant that makes Gripen and NLAW, it’s Carl Gustaf and RBS 70, GlobalEye and Giraffe radar and much more.
Already the former Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksii Reznikov, during his report to the Verkhovna Rada before the vote to accept his resignation, said that during his tenure “agreements were concluded that opened the way to cooperation” with a number of defense companies.
Baykar Makina, BAE Systems and Rheinmetall were mentioned among such companies, which have already been publicly reported. But the Swedish Saab was also mentioned in the list of companies with which agreements have been concluded.
Until now, there was no public information regarding the cooperation of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry with Saab. Only in July of this year, Oleksii Reznikov announced the signing of a global agreement on cooperation in defense procurement between Ukraine and Sweden.
According to the minister, “this document opens up great opportunities both for our Armed Forces of Ukraine and for Swedish companies such as Saab and others.”
Thus, a certain agreement with Saab was reached, but of course the question remains as to what exactly it concerns. Because the Swedish defense giant is responsible for many areas at once. The first thing that comes to mind is, of course, the JAS 39 Gripen multipurpose fighter. And it is the Gripen that the Air Force of the Armed Forces of Ukraine seriously targeted to fight for.
A long-range airborne early warning & control system, such as GlobalEye, is an objectively very necessary application for any fighter. And once a Swedish company offered its joint production on the basis of Antonov aircraft.
But Saab is the author of another type of weaponry, which even at the beginning of the full-scale russian invasion received a huge number of positive reviews – this is the anti-tank NLAW.
In the “treasury” of really excellent types of weapons of the Swedish manufacturer, it is also fair to include the AT4 grenade launcher, which is generally a bestseller on the arms market, just like the Carl Gustaf.
The RBS 70 MANPADS has already opened its combat account in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The latter, by the way, works perfectly in conjunction with the Giraffe radar, as well as with any other air defense system of a much higher level. For example, with the German IRIS-T SLS SAM system.
That is, the list of weapons developed and produced by Saab is really impressive. In addition, the company’s cooperation with Ukrainian partner companies may refer to fundamentally new joint developments
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