Ukraine declined Sweden’s offer to supply Gripen fighter feeling that integrating these aircraft along with the F-16s would be too much to handle at the same time.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström revealed these details during an interview with Voice of America on July 10.

Billström explained that Ukraine had the option to receive Gripen fighters but chose not to pursue it during the negotiation stage.

The decision was influenced by the availability of F-16 fighters, which are more commonly used by NATO countries. Kyiv decided that managing two different aircraft systems would be overly complex.

“It’s not just about getting planes and training pilots. These are complex systems, and it would be too difficult to implement two of them at the same time,” Billstrom stated.

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He assured that Sweden remains open to discussing the supply of Gripens in the future, once the F-16 program is in place.

“This is a matter for Ukraine,” Billström said.

In the meantime, Sweden has provided Ukraine with surveillance systems to enhance coordination with the incoming F-16 fighters. These systems are expected to improve Ukrainian pilots’ capabilities in aerial combat and surveillance.

“I would say that the F-16, which is now being introduced into the Ukrainian Air Force, will provide great and important opportunities. Once this is implemented, then we can start talking about Gripen fighters,” Billström said.

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“Both Sweden and the Swedish government have no restrictions on these discussions after the introduction of the F-16. But this decision was made by the Ukrainian government, not the Swedish one,” he added.

This comes as the United States, the Netherlands and Denmark announced Wednesday, July 10, that the transfer of the planes had begun, saying Ukraine “will be flying operational F-16s this summer.”

Zelensky had repeatedly pushed for the US-made warplanes to help counter Russia’s invasion, with the United States eventually acceding last year after initially insisting that focusing on ground-based air defenses was a better use of resources.

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