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The Czech Air Force Gripen have now been upgraded to MS20 which gives the fighter enhanced capabilities, most important of which is the addition of ground strike features.  

As a part of the upgrade, Gripen fighters have been integrated with unguided and laser-guided bombs, enabling Gripen to easily perform air-to ground attacks. Besides, air-to-ground capabilities, new radar modes will also improve the effectiveness of air-to-air attacks. Other additions include that of electro-optical pod Litening III and NATO-standard Link 16 datalink and laser designator pods.

The Czech Air Force signed the lease for 14 Gripen fighters in June 2005. Within a year, the Gripen fighters were delivered. When the decision to extend the lease till 2027 was taken, it was also decided that the fighters will be upgraded to MS20 post 2015.

"Thanks to the modernization of the Czech Gripen aircraft, the operational capabilities of the Czech Air Force will be significantly increased. Our staff has appreciated a close and fruitful cooperation with the Swedish side on this specific modernization project as well as the cooperation during the 13 years that we have operated Gripen aircraft," said Colonel Petr Tománek, Commander of the Czech Air Force’s Caslav Air Base.

Read the full story here. ​

​In early 2016, SwAF upgraded their Gripen C/D fleet to the MS20 configuration. Here are some photos of their upgraded Gripen aircraft armed with both Meteor missiles and Advanced Medium-Range Air-To-Air Missile (AMRAAM).

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Meteor-e-AMRAAM-2 13_12_18.jpgMeteor-e-AMRAAM-3 13_12_18.jpgMeteor-e-AMRAAM-4 13_12_18.jpgMeteor-e-AMRAAM-5 13_12_18.jpgMeteor-e-AMRAAM-6 13_12_18.jpgMeteor-e-AMRAAM-7 13_12_18.jpg

​Here's another nice video sent by the Hungarian Air Force from the time they trained in Visdel with their MS20 upgraded Gripens.



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The Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) has submitted its Gripen proposal to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence. The offer consists of eight new fully NATO-interoperable Gripen C/D fighter aircraft to equip the Bulgarian Air Force. Four out of these eight Gripen fighters with the latest MS20 configuration will be delivered within two years of signing a contract. Training of the pilots and technicians with full QRA capability will also be included within the budget framework.

“The Swedish offer meets the requirements of the Bulgarian government regarding budget, delivery schedule and capabilities of the new aircraft,” says Joakim Wallin, Director Export and International Relations, Swedish Defence Materiel Administration.

As a part of Saab's offer, two fully equipped hangars will be built at the Graf Ignatievo airbase. There will be a regional fighter support center as well which promises creation of new jobs.

Bulgaria is currently deciding which fighter plane to zero-in on, and has so far, three options- Saab's Gripen,  Lockheed Martin's F16, and secondhand Eurofighters from Italy. After being analysed by the first level of expert group, the bids are currently being evaluated by a political military commission.

Read the full story here

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In the last four years, the Swedish, the Czech Republic, and the Hungarian Air Forces have successfully completed the MS20 upgrade to their Gripen fleet.  And now, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) is reportedly looking to upgrade its fleet of 11 Gripen C/Ds with the latest configuration. Their Gripens are currently configured to the MS19 version. 

The MS20 upgrade involves both software and hardware upgrade which would enhance Gripen’s air-to-ground target engagement by integrating electro-optical pods that will allow the jets to drop laser-guided bombs.

Along with an enhancement of Gripen’s air-to-ground target engagement ability, the MS20 configuration will also introduce new radar modes that will improve the fighter’s air-to-air target engagement even more. The upgrade will also add Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb and MBDA’s Meteor beyond-visual-range-air-to-air-missile (BVRAAM).

According to another news report in Defense News​, RTAF however, would not need the integration of the NATO standard 16 datalink used by NATO and its partner nations. The RTAF’s Gripens will continue to run on Link T, which is the Thai military’s indigenous network.

"We are planning to upgrade the Gripens to the MS20 standard. We have seen the capabilities of the latest standard and it’s everything we need," says Group Captain Prachya Tippayarat, Deputy Commander of the RTAF's Wing 7 at Surat Thani Air Base. “However, no details on the timelines have been announced yet,” he adds.

It was in 2008 when an agreement was signed between ...

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With meteor, a Gripen pilot does not need to see the actual target before firing. One of the most lethal radar-guided missiles, Meteor boasts of a two way data-link and an active radar target seeker which ensures that the missile reaches its target, even at very long ranges. Not just that, a two-way datalink also enables the launch aircraft to provide mid-course target updates or retargeting if required, including data from off-board third parties.

“Meteor is the world's most modern radar guided missile. Combined with IRIS-T, we (the Swedish Air Force) now have the world's best air-to-air missiles integrated with the next generation Gripen. Together, these missiles ensure superior air dominance”, says Pierre Ziheri, pilot and director of TU JAS (Tactical Development JAS 39 Gripen). TU JAS is an FMV unit which is fully focused on a single task: to develop the tactical ability within the Gripen fighter system.

Gripen C/D was the first fighter aircraft to have the meteor capability. The test flight was conducted by FMV and Saab in the year 2012. Last month, Gripen E flew for the first time with a Meteor.

According to an FMV report, meteor is a software based weapon system, which means it can be reprogrammed in future if needed. For example, unlike Gripen C/D which has a Rail Lowering system, 

Gripen E has a new eject kit for the missiles which allows it to carry weapons under the aircraft body. Therefore, changes were made to meteor ...

During a two-week training at the Vidsel Air Base, Hungarian Gripen fighters were put through various training exercises to test the new capabilities that come with the MS20 update.

With its huge test and training area, the Vidsel Air Base is an ideal place for the six Hungarian Gripen fighters to train. "Technically, the MS20 capabilities have already been integrated to the fighters. But it is time to train the team to use the new features," says Lennart Zettergren, who is responsible for training at FMV, export division.

As a part of the MS20 update, Hungarian Gripen's engine control system, aircraft control system, and avionics system have gone through a software update. Pilot-machine interface, link functions, and radar functions have been updated as well. 

"So many changes are not easy to incorporate in a short span of time. There are several challenges. But the seamless cooperation between Saab, FMV and Hungary has made the modernisation of the Hungarian Gripen fleet possible despite a tight schedule," says Kristian Saf Pernselius, Project Manager for Gripen, Hungary at FMV.   

Read the full story here.

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Saab has proposed the South African Air Force (SAAF) to go for the MS20 upgrade for their Gripen fighters, reports the Engineering News.

“Gripen was developed with the concept of continuous upgrades – small upgrades every second or third year," says Mats Lundberg, Senior Marketing Executive, Saab.

In the last four years, the Swedish, Czech, and Hungarian Air Forces have successfully completed the MS20 upgrade to their Gripen fleet. The improvements that were a part of these upgrades ranged from enhanced air-to-ground capabilities to integration of systems like the targeting electro-optical pod Litening III.

"We are proposing that the other operators of the Gripen (South Africa and Thailand) also adopt the same standard," Lundberg said. "It makes it easier for us to support Gripen if all are to the same standard.”

But Lundberg added that the MS20 update can be customised. "A customer does not need to adopt the full range of capabilities offered under MS20, only those that they need," he says.

For South Africa, Saab plans to do a development study before preparing a SAAF-customised MS20 offer. It will be a two-three year programme which will involve the participation of South African defence industry.

Read the full story here.

​General Micael Bydén, Supreme Commander Swedish Armed Forces, elaborates on how the MS20 upgrade has acted as a gamechanger over the Baltic Sea.

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