Ukrainian pilots complete first training with Swedish Gripen fighter jets: Swedish Defense Minister Pål Jonson says

Swedish Air Force Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighter jets fly alongside an aircraft simulating aerial interceptions during a NATO media day on July 4.

Ukrainian pilots have completed a first training with Sweden’s Gripen fighter jets, the Scandinavian country said Thursday, although it has not yet confirmed whether Stockholm will donate any of the jets to Kyiv.

The Swedish government is considering donating Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine to help it fight Russia, Swedish public radio (SR) reported on September 12, citing unnamed sources. The government wants to know, among other things, how a handover would affect Sweden’s defense capabilities and how quickly Sweden could get new Gripen fighters, SR reported.

The government may formally ask the armed forces as early as September 14 to officially consider the issue, according to the report.

Sweden said in May that it would invite Ukrainian pilots and ground crew to undergo preliminary training on the jets made by defense group Saab.

“The orientation training has been completed and according to the report I received from the defense forces, the training went well,” Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said in remarks emailed to AFP.

The preliminary training “included test flights both in the aircraft and simulators and information sessions for ground crew,” Jonsson said.

The experience would “form the basis of the ongoing work to determine” whether Sweden can donate some of its Gripens, Jonson added.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been pressing Western allies to provide it with modern fighter jets to help defend itself against Russia.

Allies have hesitated for various reasons, including fears it could escalate the conflict and the need to train Ukrainian pilots.

In late August, Copenhagen and The Hague announced they would donate American F-16 jets to Kyiv, with Oslo following suit shortly afterwards.

The planes are to be delivered once the pilots are trained.

The United States is also training Ukrainian pilots.

On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the donations to Kyiv, saying they would only “prolong the conflict.”

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