Sweden gives radar surveillance planes to Ukraine air force

NORDEFCO press conference in Torshavn, on the Faroe Islands

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Sweden will donate two radar surveillance and command aircraft to Ukraine to boost its defences in the war with Russia, the Swedish government said on Wednesday, as part of its largest aid package to Ukraine so far worth about 13.3 billion Swedish crowns ($1.3 billion).

The Saab Airborne Surveillance and Control (ASC) 890 aircraft allows easier long-range target identification and will help Ukraine with the planned introduction of F-16 fighter jets donated by other Western countries, Sweden said.

"They will complement and reinforce the F-16 systems," Defence Minister Pal Jonson told a press briefing in Stockholm.

Ukraine's air force, which relies on a relatively small fleet of old, Soviet-era jets, wants F-16s to help enhance its air defences amid regular Russian air strikes and to push back against advanced Russian fighter jets.

Earlier this week, Ukraine's defence minister said he hoped the first F-16 fighter jets would be delivered to Ukraine "very soon".

The Swedish government said last week it planned to give military support to Ukraine totalling 75 billion Swedish crowns ($7.1 billion) over three years.

Sweden will now speed up orders for S 106 Global Eye aircraft to replace the donated planes, Jonson said.

(This story has been refiled to clarify that the planes are part of the aid package, in paragraph 1)

($1 = 10.5752 Swedish crowns)

(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen; Editing by Bernadette Baum)