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The Smart Fighter

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Emmen Air Force Base with its beautiful surroundings

Richard Ljungberg in cockpit

​Smiling faces after a good day of live firing in Axalp​

Bernhard "Beni" Berset, Chief Test Pilot, armasuiise and Richard Ljungberg, Chief Test Pilot, Saab.

Last week, two Gripens with Armasuisse test pilot Bernhard “Beni" Berset and Saab chief test pilot Richard Ljungberg reached Emmen, Switzerland and successfully completed live firing in Axalp. 

According to a report in tagesanzeiger, it was not the first time that a fighter aircraft from Saab was in Switzerland but it was the first time that a Swiss pilot pulled the triger of the Gripen cannons.

"The tests were successful, even though we do not have the specific results," Kaj-Gunnar Sievert, Head of Communications, Armasuisse, said.

The report said that the weapon test was done to check accuracy, performance and reliability of the Gripen fixed 27 mm automatic on-board cannon in Swiss terrain. With the Gripen, Swiss Air Force can hope to build the capacity for air-to-ground operations and to regain the ability of aerial reconnaissance, the report adds.

Click here for a video​  from the live firings.

Read the full story:  Hier schiesst der Gripen im Berner Oberland scharf

Images: Peter Liander ​

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Aviation enthusiasts and people from media were in full attendance during the first few days of the exercise Frisian Flag being held in Netherland, reports Louise Levin in forsvarsmakten.  

The Frisian Flag exercise involves participation of  Sweden’s JAS 39 Gripen, Holland’s F-16M,  Belgium’s F-16M, Poland’s F-16C, German Eurofighters and French Mirage 2000C, Mirage F1CR. 

The exercise is being held from 15 to 19 April and 22 to 26 April.

Frisian Flag is a regular exercise in which several countries participate, both with air, land and naval units. The exercise takes place in a complex hostile environment including anti-aircraft making the exercise realistic. One goal of the exercise is to plan, practice and evaluate large composite aircrafts. Another is to practice air-and-ground operations. The exercise is part of the preparations for 2014 when the fighter division will be in international preparedness - ready for a possible intervention.

Read the full story:Media Day at Frisian Flag​

The Exercise Has Started

Frisian Flag In The Netherlands ​

Image Courtesy: forsvarsmakten

Gripenblogs asked Gripen pilot, Wing Commander Charoen Watanasrimongkol, Commander 701 Squadron at Wing 7, Surat Thani, about what he and his squadron colleagues learned during Cope Tiger 2013 held at Wing 1, Korat between 11 and 21 March. 

This was the first multilateral exercise where RTAF Gripen joined since the aircraft became operational in the air force. Aircraft and personnel from USAF and RSAF also participated in the exercise. 

What kind of missions did your Gripen participate in?

This year, we only did Air to Air missions. Both OCA (Offensive Counter Air) and DCA (Defensive Counter Air) were the primary missions.

What were the objectives, and how were these objectives met/fulfilled?

Our main objectives are to test and evaluate the squadron tactics in the BVR (Beyond Visual Range​) scenarios. I believe we have achieved that.

When is the next bi/multilateral flight exercise with RTAF Gripen due?

The next one is the Thai Boomerang 2013 exercise.

What is the experience from the ground crew point of view, working in a big exercise like Cope Tiger?

They have learned a lot, both in working on a different base and in the fleet management with shared supporting resources. 

What was the biggest challenge for the pilots in the exercise?

For pilots, fighting against multiple BVR-awarded targets was the most challenging aspect from the exercise. Mission commander and Flight leads also got to learn how to plan the mission with other nations and platforms.

What was your fastest turn around? 

We did not time any ...

Royal Thai Air Force is likely to deploy Gripen fighter jets to support an anti-piracy mission in the Strait of Malacca next year, says a news report in  Bangkok Post

The mission is part of the "Eyes in the Sky" project started by the defence forces of Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore. The RTAF chief Prajin Jantong said he was about to request the government the permission for the deployment.

According to the RTAF chief, the Network Centric System of the air force will be all set and ready by 2015. The Thai cabinet had approved a 3.29 billion Baht budget for the Royal Thai Navy last year to modernize its frigate HTMS Naruesuan´s computer systems and enable it to link up with RTAF Gripens.

Read the full story:  Gripen jets slated for piracy patrol​

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According to Saab executives at LAAD 2013, AEL Sistemas SA will sign an avionics package deal with Saab if Brazil chooses Gripen NG for FX-2, reportsDefense News.

"The selection of AEL to supply the avionics package for the Gripen NG demonstrates Saab's commitment to the defense of the country. Saab has offered full cooperation with the Brazilian industry which includes job creation, technology transfer and an opportunity to participate in a joint development program in the field of defense, as well as several other business packages, “said Eddy de la Motte, Head of Gripen Export.

Eddy added that the inclusion of AEL avionics would create a separate standard for the NG development version of the aircraft already ordered by Sweden.

AEL is majorly owned by Elbit of Israel. Embraer, which has been heavily involved in providing avionics to Brazilian Air Force, also has a 25 percent stake in the company.​

Read the full story:AEL To Provide Avionics If Brazil Chooses Gripen NG for FX-2

F-X2: AEL Sistemas SA will provide avionics package Gripen

Image: Katsuhiko Tokunaga​

​This year’s LAADexhibition has drawn even a bigger number of local and international exhibitors to Latin America’s biggest defence exhibition in Rio De Janerio. 

From the number of larger defence programmes being launched by the Brazilian Ministry of Defence, it is a clear that there is increased interest in Brazil from the different defence companies around the world. Saab is no exception, and this year Saab is present with its expanded portfolio of products and systems.


The exhibition has presented a perfect opportunity to meet, discuss and demonstrate Saabs products, services and especially partnership capabilities in the region. Saab has been able to communicate a number of interesting co-operation contracts during the week with Brazilian industry including the co-operation between Saab and Brazilian company Anacom regarding Training Simulations and with AEL Sistemas regarding avionics package if Gripen NG is selected by the Brazilian Air Force.​

Saab also introduced BOH at the show, the new highly effective countermeasures self protection pod for use on any fixed wing aircraft.

One of the main eye catchers at the Saab stand is the new Sea Gripen model. Built especially to exhibit at LAAD this year, it has attracted many admiring visitors and was voted by several prominent journalists as the best model on exhibit at the show.

Chief of Staff of the Brasilian Navy visited Saab stand and looked at the Sea Gripen model of the aircraft carrier the Sao Paulo.​

Saab held two press briefings during the show and key defence journalists were given an opportunity for Q&A ...

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Gripen’s substantial contribution to the Libyan operation in 2011 has been praised by NATO, reports Dagens Nyheter, citing a study published last year by the  Stockholm Centre for Strategic Studies.

The Gripen aircraft, the Swedish pilots and the support staff proved outstanding in the reconnaissance role and outstripped other combat assets with the quality of its tactical ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) during the Libyan mission, says the report.

Good quality reconnaissance photos were taken during the mission and the speed and quality of analysis were excellent, even during a long process.

The report explained that Swedish contingent displayed great flexibility, both mentally and technically and was proactive, whenever needed. For example, while photographing oil cisterns outside Tripoli, the Swedish analysts discovered that a number of them had floating lids. If photographed at a particular angle the shade could easily be analyzed to calculate the level of consumption and refilling of these cisterns. The Swedish commander therefore requested to change the flight schedules in order to photograph these cisterns at the same time each day to make for the best possible comparative analysis.

Gripen’s technical systems also had certain advantages over other coalition partners. For example, the recce pod not only allowed the possibility of taking off with pre-planned and programmed recce targets like all other contingents, but also could receive new targets while on the mission. This meant that once the initial task was completed, Gripens could wait in a stand-by position after air-to-air refueling ...

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With a longer range, fast software updates and improved sensors, Gripen E is designed to be a pilot's delight.  Björn Johansson, Chief Engineer, Gripen E/F, describes Gripen E's features and capabilities from a pilot's perspective in one of his recent presentations.

Johansson explains that Gripen E’s improved sensors means a better detection range and a wider field of view. This gives a better picture of the battle field enabling a pilot to be more accurate during the flight. Not only this, the new sensor fusion/decision support minimizes workload as well.

sensor1.jpgJohansson further adds that electronic warfare system in Gripen E gives better warning/protection, owing to better frequency coverage, improved direction accuracy, improved jamming capability and automatic activation of countermeasures.​

Read the full presentation: Gripen From A Pilot’s Perspective​​

​Following a four day flight from Sweden passing many countries and a last stop at Port Blair, three Gripen C aircraft touched down at Wing 7, Surat Thani, on Friday, 5 April. 

The first aircraft landed at 6:14 in the evening with the two other a few minutes later. RTAF Commander, ACM Prajin Juntong greeted and thanked the pilots for a job well done and then invited them to a friendly Thai reception in the Wing´s Gripen hangar along with Thai press, RTAF officers and Swedish guests. 

Swedish and Thai VIPs and the three pilots in front of the newly arrived aircraft

The Gripens have been parked, engines are turned off and canopies opened

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RTAF Commander ACM Prajin Juntong is handed a Gripen model painted in RTAF colours with Wing 7 insignia by Colonel Fredrik Hedén from FXM. Colonel Per Nilsson, FMV, looks on. 

Anna-Karin Rosén, SAAB, ACM Prajin Juntong, RTAF, Colonel Fredrik Hedén, FXM and one of the Swedish pilots that brought the aircraft to Thailand

During 8 to 12 April, two Gripens will be flown from the Swiss airbase Emmen, near Lucerne. The flights take place at the request of the Swiss defence procurement authority armasuisse.

The flights are carried out to verify the functionality of the Gripen fixed 27 mm automatic on-board cannon in the Swiss environment, which was not done previously. A total of five flights will be made, of which the last two will be with live ammunition.

"Along with a Swiss test pilot, I will carry out the validation flights at the air force shooting range in Axalp, located at 2200 meters altitude in the mountainous area in the central part of the country," said Richard Ljungberg, chief test pilot at Saab.

Gripen in Emmen 8april Peter Liander 9449-10.jpgGripen lands Emmen 8 april Peter Liander 6566.jpgGripen arrives Emmen Liander 9467-72dpi.jpg Gripens arriving at Emmen airbase on Monday morning, 8 April.

Unlike the single-seat Gripen (Gripen C and Gripen E), the two-seater (Gripen D and Gripen F Demonstrator) is not equipped with on-board cannon. For this reason, the flights of this week will be carried out with the single-seat Gripen C version.

Please click here​ for more information in the media release from the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) in Switzerland. 

Images: Peter Liander​

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