Swedes will not send jets to help French fight Isis

UPDATED: Leaked documents suggest the Swedish military can't afford to send Jas Gripen jets to support France's fight against Isis.

Swedes will not send jets to help French fight Isis
A Jas Gripen used in an Arctic exercise last year. Photo: Foto: Lars Pehrson/SvD/TT

Sweden was quick to offer help after France reached out for support in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris last November. But documents seen by Swedish television network TV4 suggest that the Nordic country won't be sending any of its Jas Gripen jets to the Middle East.

According to the paperwork, the Swedish Armed Forces has concluded that it cannot spare the aircraft unless the Swedish government pumps more money into its defence budget.

Sweden's largest opposition party, the centre-right Moderates has spent the past few months pushing for the jets to be used to assist France. 

In December, the Social Democrat-Green coalition suggested it did not back the idea due to costs and “logistics” and this is expected to be confirmed later on Thursday, following the military's assessment.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström answered questions in parliament on Thursday about the government's strategy. She said last year that while jets may not be sent to help France, the Nordic country could assist in other ways. 

“By now it is clear that we were one of the first countries to respond to France's request, and our response has been welcomed by France. (…) Moreover, we are of course going to see if additional action will be required eventually,” she told reporters after the debate.

Critics of the coalition's approach have argued that Sweden should up its game during a time of intense global tensions linked to the rise of jihadism in the Middle East.

“This is our generation's worst international threat and that Sweden can't do more is not good,” Jan Hallenberg, professor at the Swedish Defence University, told the TT newswire in December.

Sweden – which is not part of Nato – has already sent around 35 soldiers to train Kurdish forces in Iraq to tackle Isis fighters. In November, Defence Secretary Peter Hultqvist said that their mission could be extended until December 2016.