Ukrainian pilots have completed a first training with Sweden’s Gripen fighter jets, the Scandinavian country said Thursday, although it has not yet confirmed whether Stockholm will donate any of the jets to Kyiv.
Sweden said in May that it would invite Ukrainian pilots and ground crew to undergo preliminary training on the jets made by the defense group Saab.
“The orientation training has been completed and according to the report I received from the defence forces, the training went well,” Swedish Defense Minister Pal Jonson said in remarks emailed to AFP.
The preliminary training “included test flights both in the aircraft and simulators and information sessions for ground crew,” Jonsson said.
The experience would “form the basis of the ongoing work to determine” whether Sweden can donate some of its Gripens, Jonson added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has been pressing Western allies to provide it with modern fighter jets to help defend itself against Russia.
Allies have hesitated for various reasons, including fears it could escalate the conflict and the need to train Ukrainian pilots.
In late August, Copenhagen and The Hague announced they would donate American F-16 jets to Kyiv, with Oslo following suit shortly afterward.
The planes are to be delivered once the pilots are trained.
On Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized the donations to Kyiv, saying they would only “prolong the conflict.”