RUSI recommends SAAB Gripen to face Russian Su-30/35 in Ukraine

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LONDON ($1=0.84 GBP) — The Royal United Services Institute [RUSI] published a report on November 7th on the war between Ukraine and Russia. After praising in his report the Russian MiG-31 interceptor, about which wrote, another part of the report comes out with advice to Ukraine’s Western partners.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

According to the authors of the report, Kyiv’s allies should consider an option in which they pit a Western fighter against a Russian one. The report suggests it could be the Swedish SAAB JAS 39 Gripen. The delivery of a Western fighter jet is as important as the delivery of anti-aircraft missile systems. Ukrainian President Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly emphasized in his requests to allies that his country needs to regain control of the skies over Ukraine.

As has analyzed, thanks to the Soviet S-300 air defense systems, as well as the Western-supplied NASAMS, MIM-38 Hawk, IRIS-T SLM, and Western-supplied AESA radars, Russian fighters cannot boast of air superiority. Coupled with the upcoming deliveries of new air defense systems to Ukraine and their combination with the delivery of Western fighter jets, Ukraine will hold serious cards “to change the game”.

RUSI emphasizes that the Swedes developed the SAAB JAS 39 Gripen precisely to deal with a Russian attack. The entire structure and characteristics of the Gripen combined with the combat and aviation tactics of the Swedes can give a serious advantage over its Russian competitors Su-30 or Su-35.

Photo credit: UAC

The SAAB JAS 39 Gripen is designed to perform short takeoffs and landings. The plane can actually land on a runway only 600 meters long, and take off from a runway only 500 meters long. The track does not need to be too wide, it is enough that it is within 16 meters.

This makes the fighter extremely suitable for being concealed on small airfields, trails, highways, or areas hidden in the forest. Something Sweden has done in the past, deploying the aircraft on runways hidden in the forest. This is part of the military strategic tactic of the Swedish Air Force, which is integrated into the functionality of the aircraft. The fighter is equipped with canards that create more lift at lower speeds during landing and help increase the angle of attack.

Previous Swedish fighters used a thrust resource to stop the fighter after touching the ground. Today, the SAAB Gripen does not use this resource but has canards and wheel brakes. It is the turn of another leading point in the use of Swedish fighters – service. Interestingly, this fighter does not need a special depot to be serviced but can be done by mobile teams anywhere in Ukraine.

For example, the motor can easily be separated from the housing to be serviced separately. Also, the panel and loading hatch are positioned at one point on the aircraft, making servicing extremely fast. Fighter maintenance areas are easily accessible using push-button locks. It is also very easy to separate the hydraulic lines and the gearbox by using winches.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

In general, senior Swedish officers say the fighter’s design and ease of maintenance allow Swedish army recruits to train in just one year – an extremely short time compared to other Western allies, where that time sometimes reaches 36 months.

Thus, all this as easy and fast service, and say, and take off from short runways can be combined with the tactically significant Swedish practice – low-level air superiority from scattered bases. I.e. a large number of fighters fly at low altitudes, avoiding radars, and are deployed at a large number of airfields – small, large, private, hidden. These actions are carried out continuously to confuse the enemy so that he does not know at which moment at which airport whether there is an aircraft or not. Incidentally, it is this tactic that has received recognition and praise from the US Air Force.

By deploying its fighters at dozens of bases, the Ukrainian Air Force will be able to develop specific tactics for conducting air combat with the Su-30 or Su-35. For example, a Russian fighter detected in a region over several hidden airfields with a few Gripenas means that the Russian aircraft can easily be shot down if decoy techniques are used.

The Gripens are very well-armed and often outperform their Western competitors. They have advanced electronic warfare systems that are by default optimized for suppressing Russian fighters. Last but not least, in addition to anti-ship missiles, the Gripen is armed with one of the best air-to-air beyond-visible-range missiles, the French Meteor.

Photo credit: SAAB

The RUSI report does not give the Gripen an advantage over Russian fighters, but equalizes the power in the air, placing only success on building the foundation of piloting and tactical skills.

Veteran Indian Air Force pilot Vijainder K Thakur says that under the AWACS guise, the Gripen will have very good situational awareness and will enjoy an advantage.


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