Currently, the American F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen-C fighter are said to be suitable for Ukraine.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has been going on for almost a year. It is a fact that the MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters of the Ukrainian Air Force still cannot gain advantage over modern radars and weapons systems on the Su-30SM, Su-35S and MiG-31BM fighters. While some countries are providing Ukraine with Soviet-era fighters to make up for the losses, these numbers are rapidly depleting. Sooner or later Ukraine will have to look for new fighters.

Currently, the American F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen-C fighter are said to be suitable for Ukraine. They are affordable and can operate in cold weather conditions and require little maintenance. Sweden received a request from Ukraine to hand over Gripen fighters. The matter is under consideration because these fighters are very important for the defense of the country.

The Swedish government has provided military aid to Ukraine in the amount of about one billion euros and is ready to continue its support. The Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a light single-engine multirole fighter manufactured by the Swedish aerospace company Saab AB. The Swedish Air Force currently operates 71 JAS 39Cs and 23 JAS 39Ds. In December 2022, Kiev requested Gripen-C fighters from Sweden but received only a polite refusal. Even so, Gripen’s involvement cannot be completely ruled out.

The Swedish single-engine light fighter, which conceptually shares much in common with the US F-16 fighter jet, matching a maneuverable but unstable airframe with a computerized fly-by-wire flight control system to stabilize it. The JAS-39 only officially entered operational service in 1997, by which time the Soviet threat no longer existed.

The Gripen is only three-quarters as heavy as the F-16 and has a smaller radar cross-section. It also differed in that it featured canards – a second pair of small wings near the cockpit – improving maneuverability and lift at the expense of speed. For propulsion, the Gripen used a Volvo RM-12 engine based on the F404 turbofan used on the US Navy’s Hornet jets. The fighter has a top speed of Mach 2, a range of 930 mi, and a service ceiling of 52,000 ft.

For armament, the JAS-39 had a 27 mm Mauser revolver cannon in the fuselage and the ability to mount six large missiles underwing and fuselage – and two short-range missiles on its wingtips. Its PS-05/A doppler multi-mode radar could track air and surface targets while resisting jamming and guiding up to four AIM-120 missiles onto targets simultaneously.

The Swedish fighter jets are built to take off and land on tiny strips of land and long sections of straight highways. This would suit the unique battlefield requirements in Ukraine. In addition, the electronic warfare suite on the Swedish fighter jet has been tailored specifically to block Russian fighters and SAM radars. If these fighters are delivered to Ukraine, this will be a very useful addition.

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