Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy toured Europe over the weekend where he collected advances for the country’s Air Force to get advanced fighter jets from the West.
On Saturday, Zelenskiv was in Sweden where he met Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson. Among the subjects addressed was the possibility of receiving Saab Gripen fighters.
“Today we discussed in detail the future steps regarding the possibility of opening the subject of receiving Swedish Gripens,” said the president.
Sweden had already invited pilots from the Ukrainian Air Force to fly the Gripen, however, the country is not willing to pass on its active fighters due to the heated feelings with Russia after joining NATO.
F-16 fighters will arrive in the New Year
While the Gripen still depends on talks, the Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter has become a certainty. Also this weekend, the governments of Denmark and the Netherlands confirmed the donation of combat aircraft, which are being withdrawn from service thanks to deliveries of the F-35 stealth fighter.
Denmark was more incisive in confirming the transfer of 19 F-16A/B fighters, six of them starting in the New Year while another eight will be sent in 2024 and the rest in 2025.
On a visit to Eidhoven Air Base, in the Netherlands, Zelenskiy had a meeting with the country’s prime minister, Mark Rutte.
The Netherlands has confirmed it will send its fighter jets, but has yet to reveal the number of aircraft. It currently has 42 F-16s, 24 of which are in active service but will be retired in 2024.
Training for Ukrainian pilots has also started and will take place in Denmark and Romania.
Having more modern Western fighters is one of Zelenskiye’s oldest appeals, which hopes these aircraft can defend Ukrainian territory more efficiently against Russian attacks after the military invasion that began in February 2022.
At the time, the Ukrainian Air Force relied on outdated Su-27 and MiG-29 fighters, most of them shot down in combat against more capable Russian aircraft.