Sweden is to supply Ukraine with two ASC 890 airborne early warning and control aircraft (Photo: Swedish Ministry of Defence)

BELFAST — For the first time, Sweden will supply Ukraine with two ASC 890 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft as part of a new SEK 13.3 billion ($1.25 billion) military aid package, the Nordic nation’s largest to date.

In a translated statement today, the Swedish Ministry of Defence said that the Saab-made surveillance aircraft will offer Ukraine “an entirely new capability for airborne radar reconnaissance and combat control against targets in the air and at sea” and strengthen Kyiv’s long range detection and targeting capabilities.

Russia continues to bombard Ukraine with ballistic and cruise missile and drone strikes, with Kharkiv in particular suffering sustained attacks.

Just announced: Sweden will donate a new military capability to strengthen Ukraine’s air defence. Package 16 will be the largest 🇸🇪 military aid package yet at €1,16bln. Sweden will donate Airborne Surveillance and Control aircraft (ASC 890) to 🇺🇦. (1/6) pic.twitter.com/iRqGeQE9oJ

— Pål Jonson (@PlJonson) May 29, 2024

The ASC 890 aircraft, known to Saab as the 340, are fitted with Erieye radars, based on Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology and can be operated to detect and track targets “quickly with high precision and a high update rate,” according to Saab company literature.

To make up for its own “temporary decline” in AEW&C capability once the ASC 890 are delivered, Stockholm also said it will acquire an additional Saab GlobalEye platform — making three overall — and bring forward delivery of the two units already on order. A first plane is currently scheduled for delivery in 2027, though a new date was not specifically disclosed.

Sweden did not say when the ASC 890 aircraft will be delivered to Ukraine, but they are set to be deployed alongside F-16 fourth-generation fighter jets, due to be supplied by Belgium, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands, in support of an air force capability coalition for Ukraine.

Pal Jonson, Sweden’s Minister of Defence, told press today that after “intensive discussions” with countries from the coalition, it was decided supplies of the ASC 890 aircraft “would have the largest impact on Ukrainian air defense,” per a Bloomberg report.

Sweden has so far declined to send Saab Gripen C/D fighter jets, but Jonson reportedly told the Swedish news agency TT on Tuesday that he had been advised by countries from the coalition to wait so Ukraine can focus on introduction of the F-16.

“I’m very impressed with how Ukraine has defended itself against Russian aggression, and Sweden as a nation is very supportive, we are sending a lot of equipment including arms,” Tommy Petersson, deputy commander of the Swedish Air Force told reporters last week.

He said it would be a “political decision” for Gripen jets to be supplied to Ukraine, but noted that the move would be feasible and that Sweden has a “long standing tradition” of exporting the aircraft.

Jonson also noted on X (formerly Twitter) that Sweden’s Defence Research Agency will be “tasked” with supporting Ukraine to create its own defense research institute.

Sweden’s latest aid package to Ukraine also covers supplies of all of the country’s PBV 302 armored tracked personnel carriers so Kyiv can reconstruct damaged bridges, US made Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missiles (AMRAAM) and “resources” to maintain previously supplied equipment.

In a post on X, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky welcomed the new Swedish weapons and said they are “critical to our warriors.”

Since the start of the war against Russia, Stockholm has provided SEK 43.5 billion ($4 billion) in military aid and support to Ukraine.