JAS 39 Gripen Fighters are No 'Silver Bullet' for Ukraine Against Russia

Sweden JAS 39 Gripen Fighter
May 19, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: SwedenNATOUkraineJAS 39Jas 39 GripenMilitaryRussia

JAS 39 Gripen Fighters are No 'Silver Bullet' for Ukraine Against Russia

There are now considerations to send JAS 39 Gripen warplanes to Ukraine, a versatile and cost-effective fighter jet designed for prolonged engagements. Sadly, such a move won't change the condition on the ground or above the sky when it comes to taking on Russia. 


Summary: The ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia is at a critical juncture, with Ukraine struggling to maintain its defense against a galvanized Russia. Despite significant Western aid, including military equipment like MiG fighters and F-16s, the situation remains dire. There are now considerations to send JAS 39 Gripen warplanes to Ukraine, a versatile and cost-effective fighter jet designed for prolonged engagements.

-However, the article argues that no amount of military aid will enable Ukraine to reclaim Crimea or eastern territories occupied by Russia. Instead, it suggests that a peace initiative might be a more realistic and effective solution.


JAS 39 to Ukraine? Could It Happen? Here's What That Means 

Ukraine is losing the war with Russia. Continued American and NATO support is in question over the longterm. The Russians are galvanized. Ukraine itself is losing its ability to maintain cohesion in the face of the threat. Meanwhile, NATO continues throwing an assortment of military equipment—much of it old and useless against the threat of Russia—all in the vain hope that Ukraine will somehow overcome the Russian threat on its own. 

There is no likely future where Ukraine can defeat the Russians, take back Crimea, and evict the Russians from Eastern Ukraine. No amount of Western aid will achieve this outcome. And Russia is more ensconced in these areas than they were before the war began in 2022. What’s more, Moscow has made it clear that it would use nuclear weapons to prevent the loss of Crimea to Ukraine (and, therefore, NATO).

Nevertheless, the delusion persists that just the right weapons system will make a different. 

As we enter the second year of the seemingly interminable war, the West now seeks to give airpower assets to the Ukrainians. Old Soviet MiG fighters have already been given. Now, old variants of F-16 fighters are being hand over to the Ukrainians. These systems, low in number, will not be enough to rollback Russia. 

Now, it seems that the West might want to send Ukraine JAS 39 Gripen warplanes developed by Sweden’s Saab corporation. 

Some Details About the JAS 39 Gripen

The JAS 39 Gripen is a multirole fighter jet designed and produced by the Swedish aerospace company Saab. It was developed to replace Sweden's aging fleet of fighter jets and has since been adopted by several other countries around the world. Further, it is seen as a better fighter for what Ukraine needs because it was specifically designed to last longer in a fight with the old Soviet Union, had they invaded Europe during the Cold War.

Some other details about the plane’s capabilities include its ability to take off and land on degraded airfields—of the kind that Ukraine has today after years of fighting the Russians. It can also fire the new MDBA Meteor. A powerful missile that can hit targets as far away as 260 km (or 161 miles). The F-16 is not compatible with this new missile, but the JAS 39 is. 

This missile can threaten the Russian bombers which have been dogging Ukrainian defenders since the start of the war.

The Gripen is a lightweight, single-engine aircraft known for its high maneuverability and advanced technology. It is capable of performing a wide range of missions, including air defense, ground attack, and reconnaissance. The JAS 39 Gripen is equipped with state-of-the-art avionics, sensors, and weapons systems, allowing it to effectively engage both air and ground targets.

One of the key features of the Gripen is its versatility. 

The aircraft can be easily adapted to suit the specific needs of different operators, making it an attractive option for countries with varying defense requirements. Additionally, the Gripen is known for its cost-effectiveness, with lower acquisition and operational costs compared to other fighter jets in its class.

The Gripen has seen combat action in various conflicts around the world, including in Libya and Afghanistan, where it has demonstrated its effectiveness repeatedly. The aircraft's performance and reliability have earned it a reputation as a capable and dependable fighter jet.

The Mass Delusion

While the JAS 39 Gripen is a wonderful platform, it will not change the fundamentals of the Ukraine War.

The Ukrainian side is exhausted and crumbling whereas the Russians are more galvanized than ever. The Gripens might be able to do some damage at the tactical level. But at the strategic level? Short of a full-blown NATO interventionin Ukraine (God help us all), there is no magic bullet that will allow for Ukraine to reverse the considerable losses they’ve suffered over the last year.

The West has clung onto the absurd hope that, any day now, with the right Western weapons, the Ukrainians will go on the offensive and kick the Russians out of their country. This delusion is what prevented the West from supporting a peace initiative with Putin after Kiev was successfully defended in 2022. It’s what prompted the West to give those blessed tanks to Ukraine. It’s why now they’re giving Ukraine these warplanes.

But every weapon system that was supposed to turn the tide of the war never did what we were told they would do.

What’s more, neither the F-16s nor the Gripens, even if used in tandem as many military experts want Ukraine to do, will not stop the onslaught from Russia. Rather than continuing to string Ukraine on with false hope, why not invest in an actual peace plan that would end the conflict?

About the Author 

Brandon J. Weichert, a National Interest national security analyst, is a former Congressional staffer and geopolitical analyst who is a contributor at The Washington Times, as well as at American Greatness and the Asia Times. He is the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers), Biohacked: China’s Race to Control Life, and The Shadow War: Iran’s Quest for Supremacy. Weichert can be followed via Twitter @WeTheBrandon.

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