Ukraine stated interest in the acquisition of Lockheed F-35s

Yuriy Ignat, advisor to the Ukrainian Air Force Commander, stated Kiev’s interest in acquiring Gripen jets from Sweden and F-35 jets from the U.S., as reported by RIA Novosti. 

F-35 Lightning II fighter jet
Photo credit: Twitter

Ignat articulated the necessity for Ukrainian troops to upgrade their arsenal with advanced tech like F-35 and Gripen, beyond F-16s. 

A Ukrainian Air Force official said that the Gripen is a high priority for acquisition following the F-16. Ignat also confirmed that Kyiv is evaluating various combat aircraft types, with F-16 being the main consideration.

SAAB Gripen for Ukraine

September 13 saw Ignat express Ukraine’s desire for Western-made fighter jets equivalent to the Russian Su-35. He also noted the differences in capabilities of various models of American F-16 and Swedish Gripen jets. 

On September 12, Sweden planned to provide Ukraine with Gripen fighters. The country’s royal government should soon request this from the military. The training requirements for Ukrainian pilots to operate the Gripen in Ukraine are still being arranged. Before this, Ukrainians, especially under Zelensky, were thrilled at the thought of receiving F-16 jets.

Give Ukraine a Gripen, the F-16 can't give what the Swede can
Photo by Milan Nykodym

Sweden trains Ukrainian pilots

Sweden has committed to train Ukrainian pilots and aviation staff on the JAS 39 [Gripen]. 

This training prospect was revealed by Regeringskansliet in June. expressed concerns over the training scheme’s details and whether it implies Ukraine’s future acquisition of the aircraft. 

SR indicates a potential military investigation into the Gripen transfer based on Ukraine’s capability to operate it, implying an enhancement of the training program.

Sweden's Gripen gets new EW, comm- and reconnaissance systems
Photo credit: SAAB

Ukraine’s chances to get F-35

For Ukraine to buy the F-35, it must meet certain requirements. This includes showing commitment to democracy, human rights, and law. The US will evaluate progress in these areas. A stable defense budget is also needed due to the high costs of the F-35. This means sufficient funding for the aircraft’s purchase, training, and upkeep.

Moreover, Ukraine should have a solid defense infrastructure with the right airbases, maintenance amenities, and skilled staff to operate and maintain the F-35. Meeting these conditions is vital for Ukraine’s F-35 acquisition to be considered. 

It's a mess: Heavy flight training leaves the UK without F-35 pilots
Photo credit: The Drive

Several factors

The US may permit Ukraine to obtain the F-35, but it would involve a thorough examination by the American government. This involves analyzing national security implications, the impact on regional stability, and Ukraine’s ability to manage and keep the equipment effectively.

Factors like politics, regional dynamics, and security situation in the region can affect the decision. Past military aid to Ukraine and its strategic partnership with the US could influence the decision, but predicting the chances is challenging.

The F-35 is an advanced military technology that the US shares selectively due to its sensitivity. Strict controls are in place, with each buyer vetted to avoid misuse. For countries like Ukraine, ongoing geopolitical issues, such as the Russia conflict, could influence the decision.

In Russia: Copied Soviet Yak-141's unit damaged the F-35 in Texas
Photo credit: Flickr / Samuel King Jr.

Factors like Ukraine’s strategic role, shared values, and potential security impacts would be taken into account in the decision-making process.


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