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Flying during an airshow is a process planned well in advance. From the aerial maneuvers to flight formations to releasing flares and performing duals, every move during a display is tested, verified, approved, rehearsed for months and perfected.

In an interview with Lidovky.cz, Czech Gripen display pilot Ivo Kardoš, winner of the best display award this year at the NATO Days in Ostrava and Air Force Days, talks about his job, and nuances of air displays.

Display flying is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a challenging task that requires a lot of expertise. “An aerial display lasts for only ten minutes. But is exhausting. By the end of it, you can see me sweating like I have run for miles,” he says.

"You have to love your job, or else you cannot do it."

About a standard day at work as a Gripen pilot, Kardoš says it begins with a briefing on the weather and availability of aircraft. Thereafter, pilots get the schedule of their tasks of the day. "We record our flights and analyze it later to see if there is any room for improvement."

Kardoš, who flies at about 15 airshows in a year, says the pilot has to concentrate a lot during a display flight as one has to fly very close to the ground. "We fly at a height of 100-200 yards. There is no time for mistakes. You have to display the same maneuvers you have learnt ...

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“My manager called me into the room, shook my hand and said, ‘Congratulations, you’re going to Sweden,’” says António da Fontoura, a hardware and software engineer at AEL. 

“We spent a whole week inside the simulators in order to understand how Gripen’s system works, and we could also feel how these systems - such as the helmet - operate. It has a display that keeps information on the pilot’s visor. If you have a designated target, when looking to the side, the helmet points to its location,” he adds.

Since 2015, several engineers like António have been extensively working to develop various parts of the Gripen fighter along with their Swedish colleagues. More than a 100 Brazilian professionals have been trained so far with a majority of them already working at Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN).

According to General Márcio Bruno Bonotto, "So far, all our expectations have been met. Everything is going as per schedule. 50% of the technology transfer initiatives have been completed. This demonstrates the confidence that FAB and Saab have in each other."

In 2016, Saab and Embraer inaugurated GDDN in Gavião Peixoto, in the state of São Paulo. GDDN is responsible for providing the development environment and simulators required to undertake the fighter development work.

This year in May, Saab unveiled a 5,000-square-meter facility for its future Gripen fighter jet aerostructures plant: Saab Aeronáutica Montagens (SAM). SAM will be responsible for the development of aerostructures for the ...

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When Captain Gustavo de Oliveira Pascotto flew Gripen for the first time in 2015, he was very impressed with the way Gripen managed the pilot work load. "What I liked the most was the highly advanced human-machine interface," he said.

Pascotto was one of the first few Brazilian pilots who left Anápolis for F7 in Såtenäs to learn all about the future fighter of their Air Force and pass on this knowledge to his colleagues and newly qualified Gripen instructors.

Fast forward to today, and more than 140 professionals have been trained in Sweden till date. They have already returned to Brazil, and most of them are working at the Gripen Design and Development Network (GDDN).

Today, there is an excitement amongst everyone at the Brazilian Air Force about the arrival of new fighters with people eagerly waiting for Gripen to become operational in Brazil.

“There is a desire and a thrill that has not been seen for a long time. Today we have a group dedicated to studying this aircraft, which asks us a lot of questions. The pilots know they will have the opportunity to operate a modern machine that will enable them to complete their missions successfully. FAB is restructuring and training the squadron to operate Gripen,” says Lieutenant Colonel Renato Leal Leite.

Those who have flown it never forget it. “Flying Gripen was challenging, rewarding and an operational crowning experience,” says Major Gustavo Pascotto.

Teams are working diligently on ...

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The pace at which technology has changed over the last few decades, and continues to do so, has been impressive to say the least. The computers, processors, and electronics of tomorrow are going to be even better and faster. This means any product - no matter how advanced it is - being developed today will have some or a lot of catching up to do every now and then.

For new age fighters, upgradability will be the key. It is for this very reason that Gripen E has been developed with future progress in mind. “The future pilot will need the ability to continuously upgrade the hardware and software and not get stuck in old functionality; this is of increasing importance,” says Saab’s Wing Commander Flying and Gripen test pilot Hans Einerth.

So, how does Saab build a system that is ready for tomorrow, a fighter that will have an edge in an uncertain future?

The answer is 'Split Avionics'. Separating flight critical and mission critical means a less complicated system that allows for easy modifications. Here is how it works at so many levels. 

Gripen avionics system separates 10% of core flight critical management codebase from 90% of tactical management code. This results in avionics that are hardware agnostic, leaving the tactical management to be integrated with new features without the need to re-certify the flight critical software.

Saab’s Avionic Management System (AMS) for Gripen is the first truly open architecture avionics platform. Conscious ...

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As the Indian government sets about its journey of acquiring 110 new fighters this month, all eyes are on the various options available for the IAF.

Saab believes its Gripen E fighter to be the ideal solution for the challenges faced by the Indian defence forces. One of the most advanced multi-role fighters in the world, Gripen E has been designed to provide operational dominance and flexibility with superior mission survivability. The fighter offers an enviable 10-minute operational turnaround time, and is compatible with the latest weapons, sensors and mission systems.

Here are five specific reasons why Gripen E is the perfect fighter for India:

Technology Transfer

As per the recently announced RFI, out of the 110 fighter jets required by India, 85% will have to be built in the country under the "Make in India" program.  For Saab, transfer of technology is more than transferring assembly lines to India. From sharing  know-how to transforming their proposed India facility into a regional hub for Gripen, Saab's ToT offer envisions the overall growth of the Indian defence industry. Saab's successful ToT program in Brazil so far further proves that the company is committed to its strategic partnership policy with Gripen operating nations.

Multi-role capabilities

The RFI also mentions the requirement of day-and-night-capable, all-weather, multi-role combat aircraft. Gripen E is the most advanced multi-role fighter that has been designed to meet various demanding operational requirements of air forces today. The fighter can not only seamlessly ...

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With every passing year, the signal environment for Electronic Warfare (EW) systems is becoming more and more complex. There are more signals out there, both military and civilian. Hence it becomes imperative to have a smart EW systems which can quickly differentiate a threat signal from other signals.

All around us, there is an Electromagnetic (EM) spectrum which covers all energy radiated by means of electromagnetic waves including radio communication and radar transmission. According to Inga Bergstrom, Sales Director of Gripen EW, Electronic Warfare is the combat for control of the EM spectrum.

“EW may not be the primary function of a fighter, but it is an enabler to conduct a successful mission,” Inga says.

Some of the tactics used by pilots of fighter aircraft to avoid detection include silent flight by reducing emissions, or by flying at low heights. Even then, detection by enemy devices is a possibility, and in the event that Gripen E’s location has been compromised, EW system provides countermeasure techniques, such as Dispensing – in which decoys are released into the air, creating a false target to fool the enemy.

Elaborating on the features of Gripen’s EW system, Inga says that it is all about listening, detecting, identifying, and if you are detected first, about deterring, defending and defeating. 

EW has been an important part of Gripen from the beginning. Today, Saab has a small, compact system that does a number of things while also reducing drag and ...

​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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A group of 16 fighter pilots, 4 flight controllers and other personnel from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) recently undertook a week-long course with Gripen simulators at the Swedish Air Force Combat Simulation Centre (FLSC) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The objective of this course, which included theoretical studies in Brazil, was to familiarize pilots with controls in the Gripen cockpit and understand the fighter system before it arrives in the country. During the week-long course, participants had the opportunity to train in complex scenarios and learn basic combat techniques, tactical datalinks and situational awareness using Gripen simulators.

Each pilot attending the course had flown at least 500 hours in a fighter aircraft. During the course, they went from theory to practice almost immediately and the degree of difficulty in the scenarios increased rapidly, ending in a very complex Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) combat scenario.

“The pilots are able to fly Gripen in the simulators after only an hour here at the course. The advantages of Gripen is not only in its radars, sensors, weapons and other capabilities, but also the outstanding Human Machine Interface (HMI) that makes Gripen easy for the pilot to use and maneuver. This is something that we can see in the simulators as well,” says Colonel Ricardo Rezende, Leader of the Fox team responsible for the operational issues regarding implementation and developing operational concepts of Gripen in Brazil.

Four out of the 16 pilots who attended the course will be chosen as Gripen pilots ...

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


Thirty years ago, Gripen took off on its very first flight. The designated test pilot was Stig Holmström. Last year test pilot Marcus Wandt took Gripen E on its first flight. The two pilots met up for a chat.

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