Sweden Faces A Shortage Of Fighter Pilots

Sweden Faces A Shortage Of Fighter Pilots

Even though it is known for its strong defense industry base, and modern military posture. However, Sweden is now experiencing acute turmoil. 

In the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, this Scandinavian country is no longer neutral, along with Finland, Sweden has applied to become part of NATO, whose status is still blocked by Turkey. Apart from that, apparently there are serious problems facing the Swedish military.

The newly published Swedish armed forces annual report 2022 has laid out some of the operational and industrial difficulties facing the country, which include defense industry supply chain shortages and a pilot crisis which caused the flight hours of Gripen fighter jets to fall by almost 12 percent compared to 2021.

Quoted from Breakingdefense.com (23/2/2023), throughout 2022, the war in Ukraine and a shortage of direct suppliers lead to severe challenges in the maintenance of military equipment and result in delays in the delivery of the new Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) ship, HSwMS Artemis .

The pilot shortage caused the Swedish Air Force to log 1,363 fewer flight hours in 2022 for its Gripen fleet, versus the 11,727 hours covered in 2021. That raises serious questions about Swedish air power at the time.

In fact, apart from a shortage of fighter pilots, the Swedish Air Force also has a shortage of flight technicians. However, a shortage of pilots in particular was identified as the biggest source of the problem, along with 30 pilots taking study leave.

"In 2022, furloughs did not significantly affect the performance of key tasks, but the ability of the air force to continue to train and maintain combat units has significantly decreased," the report added. "If the leave continues from time to time, the capabilities of military units will also decrease, especially in terms of ability to complete key tasks."

Saab received a SEK500 million (US$48 million) contract in December 2022 to upgrade the Swedish Air Force's Gripen C/D fleet so it can remain operational until 2035. Stockholm has also agreed to acquire 60 more advanced Gripen E fighter jets for the air force's arsenal.

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