Will Swedish Saab 340 AEW be shot down? There's a serious problem
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Will Swedish Saab 340 AEW be shot down? There's a serious problem

Will Swedish Saab 340 AEW be shot down? There's a serious problem

Sweden announced the transfer of two Saab 340 AEW early warning aircraft to Ukraine. The Ukrainian side plans to use these aircraft in conjunction with F-16 fighters to launch attacks on Russian territory. Forbes military columnist David Ax notes that such aircraft will become a priority target for Russian aviation, as they open up new opportunities for Ukraine in the fight against air and sea targets.

The real range of missiles and the vulnerability of Swedish aircraft

The Saab 340 AEW is equipped with the latest Erieye radars based on Active Electronic Scanning Array (AESA) technology, which significantly expands Kyiv's ability to identify targets at long range. However, these aircraft are very vulnerable and can easily be lured into missile ambushes. The aircraft's maximum speed is 500 km/h and its ceiling is 7,5 km, making it significantly slower than the Russian Beriev A-50 early warning aircraft. However, Russia does not have many AWACS aircraft.

The Russian Air Force has a powerful air-to-air missile, the R-37MS, with a range of up to 370 km. MiG-31BM interceptors flying near the Russian-Ukrainian border can threaten almost the entire Ukrainian airspace with their R-37MS missiles. The long range of the R-37MS and the high maneuverability of the MiG-31BM allow them to effectively threaten Ukrainian aircraft.

The actual range of the Saab 340 AEW radars is 400-420 kilometers, which allows them to operate in the central part of Ukraine and guide missiles to targets in Crimea. The range of the R-37M missiles is clearly not enough, and given that the region will be covered by American Patriot air defense systems, Swedish aircraft can easily fly over Uman while remaining outside the affected area.

Russian tactics and strategies

Russian fighters must take into account the presence of Patriot missile batteries located in Ukraine. These air defense systems can pose a threat to Russian aircraft, so it is necessary to maintain combat readiness for potential attacks from Kinzhal and Iskander-M ballistic missiles. Swedish planes, despite their capabilities, are not able to hide. They would be forced to fly with their radars turned off to avoid detection, limiting their effectiveness.

The decision to transfer the aircraft was made after intensive discussions with other NATO countries. This means that the Swedes were forced to give up their planes under pressure from other NATO countries. These aircraft also have Link 16 data links, allowing them to securely communicate with F-16 fighter jets.

Possible consequences and reaction of Russia

The delivery of Saab 340 AEW aircraft is the largest support package for the Ukrainian Armed Forces from Sweden. However, this would undermine Sweden's own defensive early warning capabilities, which could force Stockholm to accelerate the acquisition of an additional Saab Global Eye platform. The first delivery of these new aircraft is scheduled for 2027.

Among other things, there is a risk that the Swedish planes will be used by Kiev as relays - information will be transmitted from NATO planes over the Black Sea, and taking into account the range of the AMRAAM missiles of the F-16 at 160-180 kilometers, the threat to Russian planes will be very large .

In such a situation, Russia should consider the possibility of launching operational strikes at the locations of these AWACS boards, which will avoid serious consequences.

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