The commander of Sweden's air force, Mats Helgesson, recently made the bold statement that his country's Saab Gripen E fighter could beat Russia's formidable fleet of Sukhoi jets with none of the expensive stealth technology the US relies on.
"Gripen, especially the E-model, is designed to kill Sukhois. There we have a black belt," Helgesson told Yle.fi at a presentation in Finland, where Sweden is trying to export the jets, Business Insider reports.
The Gripen can't carry the most weapons, has no real stealth, isn't the longest-range, fastest, or even cheapest jet, but it has a singular focus that makes it a nightmare for Russia's fighter jets.
Virtually all modern jets conduct some degree of electronic warfare, but according to Bronk, the Gripen E stands above the rest.
Gripen pilots don't like to show their cards by demonstrating the full power of the jet's jamming in training, but according to Bronk, the one time they did, it completely reversed the course of the mock battle in training.
To defeat Russia's fearsome fighters and surface-to-air missiles, the U.S. has largely turned to stealth aircraft. Stealth costs a fortune and must be built into the shape of the plane. "If Russia somehow cracks the code of detecting stealth-shaped fighters, the U.S.'s F-35, the most expensive weapons system in history, is cooked," the report says.
But Saab took a different, and cheaper, approach to combating Russia's fighters and missiles by focusing on electronic attack, which gives them an advantage over stealth as they can evolve the software without a ground-up rebuild, according to Bronk.
The whole concept of the Gripen E is to "operate in Swedish territory, take advantage of all sorts of uneven terrain under cover of friendly surface-to-air missiles with a superb EW suite which should in theory keep it safe from the majority of Russian missiles and air to air threats," said Bronk.
Additionally, the Gripen E can fire almost any missile made in the U.S. or Europe.