Sweden has been urged to pause its apparent plans to send its Saab Gripen C/D fighter jets to Ukraine, Swedish defence minister Pål Jonson has announced, as the nation revealed its biggest support package for Ukraine to date (amounting to SEK 13.3 billion, or USD $12.62 billion).

As reported by Reuters, on 28 May 2024, Swedish defence minister Pål Jonson told news agency TT that Sweden has been “urged by the other countries in the coalition to wait with the Gripen system;” adding that “this has to do with the fact that the focus is now on introducing the F-16 system”.

The apparent pause in plans is at odds with the wording of a bilateral security cooperation agreement, signed on 31 May by Sweden’s prime minister Ulf Kristersson and Ukraine’s president Volodymr Zelensky, which noted: “Sweden, in cooperation with international partners, will continue its efforts to enable a potential transfer of JAS Gripen aircraft to Ukraine, including training, at an appropriate point in time, taking into account progress in integrating other Western fighter aircraft into the Ukrainian Defence Forces”.

This bilateral agreement encompasses SEK 75 billion ($7.11 billion) of military assistance to be provided by Sweden from 2024-2026 and follows the announcement of Sweden’s largest support package to date. This specific deal includes the donation of its two ASC 890 Airborne Surveillance and Control aircraft; a new capability for Ukraine, and something Swedish minister for defence Pål Jonson described as “a force multiplier with the introduction of F-16”.

Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway have so far pledged to send the multirole Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon to Ukraine, with the first units due this year. During a press tour in May 2024, Tommy Peterson, deputy commander of the Swedish Air Force, noted that although “Sweden as a nation is very supportive”, sending Gripen fighter jets to Ukraine will ultimately be “a political decision”.
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