UK think tank says Saab Gripen fighter would be most effective for Ukraine

According to the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies, Swedish fighter jets could operate anywhere in the country and rely on little support infrastructure.

Manufacturer of the Gripen fighter, Saab gained publicity in favor of its aircraft where it was least expected. The Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI) published a long article about the air war in Ukraine and proposed as one of the solutions to strengthen the country’s Air Force the provision of Gripen C/D fighters.

“The Swedish Saab Gripen C/D offers by far the most suitable candidate in terms of operational requirements. It was designed from the outset for ease of maintenance, and can be refueled, re-armed and given basic maintenance by teams of just six ground crew using two vehicles on small airbases or highways in cold weather”, said the article.

The analysis, by experts Justin Bronk, Nick Reynolds and Jack Watling, argues that Russia still has air superiority in the conflict region, despite the fact that Su-35 and MiG-31 fighter jets do not fly over Ukraine. With outdated versions of the MiG-29 and Su-27 fighters, Ukraine has carried out missions at very low altitudes to avoid more modern Russian missiles.

The Gripen fighter can operate from roads (Saab)

Despite this, the Russian Air Force (VKS) has not carried out missions within Ukrainian territory since April due to the presence of more efficient surface-to-air missile batteries and, above all, portable weapons like the MANPADS supplied by the West.

In addition, Ukraine has organized its defense in such a way as to operate without fixed positions, to make it difficult for them to be located and the consequent attacks by Russian forces.

For this reason, the RUSI Institute points out that the Gripen C/D fighter, the second generation of the aircraft, would be a very efficient alternative to Western aircraft instead of the expensive and demanding F-15, F-16 and F/A-18 fighters.

Ukrainian Su-27 and MiG-29 fighter jets are outdated, according to the institute (Jonathan Webb)

Traditional Russian opponent

Saab’s supersonic jet was designed precisely to counter a possible Russian attack. Since the Draken, Viggen and other fighters, Sweden has maintained an independent stance in its strategy to contain an onslaught by the Soviet Union.

“Conceptually, the Swedish Air Force has always emphasized low-level air superiority tactics from dispersed bases, in a similar manner to how the Ukrainian Air Force currently operates, and so the Gripen was designed with ground support equipment and maintenance requirements compatible with that approach,” explained the specialists in defence.

Also according to the institute, the Gripen only needs a trained specialist, with the other members of the team being able to only be soldiers with no experience.

The Gripen E fighter fired a Meteor missile for the first time (Saab)

The Gripen C/D has an electronic warfare suite optimized to contain Russian fighter jets and surface-to-air missiles, as well as being capable of firing long-range Ramjet-powered Meteor missiles and performing anti-ship missions.

Currently, the air forces of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Thailand and Sweden operate the Gripen C and D (two-seat). There would be just over 130 aircraft, but RUSI guarantees that even a few fighters would be enough to dissuade Russia from carrying out deeper attacks on Ukrainian territory.

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