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When the Royal Thai Air Force, RTAF, decided to publish a book that celebrates its 100 years of flying (1912-2012), they hired world class military aviation photographer Katsuhiko Tokunaga.

Tokunaga spent several weeks in Thailand this year flying with the RTAF aircraft, from old workhorses like C-130 to the brand new Gripen, shooting spectacular air-to-air photos and equally great pictures of men and machines on the tarmac at RTAF Wings all over the kingdom.

The result is a high quality paper photography book spanning over 176 large pages, with bilingual captions in Thai and English. And yes, there are plenty of great Gripen shots in this volume! 

Book facts: ISBN 9749752511, 176 colour pages measuring 300 x 220 mm. Book comes in hard box. Total weight 1.5 kilo.The book is sold at THB 895 in Asia Books stores in major Thai cities as well as online for slightly less from Asia Books, linkwww.asiabooks.com

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Gripen users from South Africa, Hungary, Czech Republic, Sweden and Thailand came together to share their experiences of operational use of the supersonic fighters at the recently held Gripen conference in Czech Republic, says a news report inDefence Aerospace.

Representatives of the five countries discussed operational issues and maintenance, logistics and safety issues in the use of the Gripen and shared their varied knowledge with each other. The final document of the Conference called "Action List" represents a set of shared knowledge, information and the "know-how" for effective operational use of the aircraft.

"Individual users accumulate different experiences in operating these aircraft, for example, due to different climatic conditions. We share different experiences and information during the conference and found that some of them are very similar. After the evaluation, we can be better prepared for the challenges ahead, “says Czech Gripen pilot, Maj. Petr Michenka.

According to Maj. Michenka, one of the frequently discussed topics at the conference was that of "Aircraft Cross Servicing", which means situations in which a pilot would be able to prepare and leave an airport that does not have the appropriate technical support for the Gripen.

The Gripen User Group conference is held twice a year.

Photo Courtesy: Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic

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The first days of the Czech Air Force policing of the air space of the three Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – has been characterised by increased flight activity, says a news report in Czech Armywebsite.

The report also says that the QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) Gripen fighters succeeded in all cases; there were four starts against the violators of the air space already. As per the orders from the Combined Air Operations Centre in Uedem, North Germany, two Gripens always took off within the planned 15 minutes.

“We have chosen six Gripen aircrafts for the mission, out of which four are permanently deployed in Šiauliai. The aircrafts received a special anti-rust treatment and have been tested consequently in order to make completely sure that they are fully operational. We are ready for potential defects as we have brought several sets of tools with us, “says Major Radomír Holuša, deputy commander of the engineering air service of the 211th Tactical Wing.

Read the full story:  ALFA Already Made The Gripens Take Off Four Times

​Air Chief Marshal Prachin Jantong who became Thailand’s 22nd air force commander last month says he aims to make the Royal Thai Air Force, ASEAN’s top air force in the next two years, says a news report inBangkok Post.

"We anticipate the air force will have a leading position in the region within two years," ACM Prachin said.

The new Saab 340 AEW airborne early warning aircraft has already arrived in Thailand and an RBS-15 anti-ship missile system has also been installed. ACM Prachin said that the second phase of the Gripen project would start from next year with the arrival of three aircraft in April.  All 12 Gripens would be in position by 2014.

The Commander also added that he will work with the government through the Defence Ministry and the Supreme Commander. He emphasizes that the next important task is to repair the air force base Don Muang in Bagnkok, which has been damaged due to floods last year.

Read the full story: Prachin takes helm, aims for No.1 in Asean​​

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Also known as the 'Flying Cheetahs', the South African Air Force (SAAF) 2 Squadron, now based at AFB Makhado was first formed at Waterkloof in 1939 and re-formed in Kenya in 1940.

Gripen became a part of the SAAF Squadron 2 in April 2008. SAAF completed its fleet with the delivery of its final four Gripen C single seaters in September this year. The squadron operates all the SAAF's Gripens except the first Gripen D, which has been assigned to the Test Flight and Development Centre at AFB Overberg.

Watch the Gripen fly on a low level sortie mission:SAAF 2 Squadron - SAAB Gripen - 'The Flying Cheetahs'

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“It was an existential experience,” says Carina Brorman, Communications Director, Saab after flying the Gripen last week, reports Swedish magazineResume.

Carina Brorman told the Resume that she flew the Gripen to increase her own understanding of the aircraft.

“It's indescribable. The coolest experience of this kind that I've been through. During the years I have tried some different things in order to understand the incredibly complex products that we have. But to fly the Gripen tops everything,” she said.

When Resume asked if she saw the plane any differently now, Carina said that Gripen has certain abilities that makes it a favorite among pilots. It is easy to maneuver and perform advanced movements and missions and she understands it better now after having experienced flying 20 meters above the water and then, barely 30 seconds later, to be up at about 9000 meters.

Read the full story: An Existential Experience​

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The program of technology transfer in the area of aerostructures for the Gripen NG entered a new phase with the completion of the design of the rear fuselage of the aircraft and the start of production. Akaer is the first Brazilian company to participate in developing a fifth-generation supersonic fighter.

A group of five engineers from Akaer would be going to Sweden this month to monitor the production of parts developed in Brazil and start the planning for the next phase, involving the central fuselage design of the Gripen, says a post in the Brazilian blogAirpower.

Akaer is also responsible for the design of the wings of the fighter, which will be made of composite material. In 2009, Akaer was hired by Swedish Saab Gripen to develop parts of the Gripen NG.

"If the Gripen is selected by the Brazilian government, part of the production will be in Brazil. Akaer, however, has already been selected by Saab as one of the leading suppliers, enabling the company to meet all requests for purchase of the Gripen in the world,"says Kenzo Takatori, Marketing Advisor, Akaer.

Photo Courtesy:Department of Defense of Switzerlandand Akaer

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Last month, the Swedish Air Force Historic Flight SwAFHF’s AJS 37 Viggen, J 29F barrel and the Hawker Hunter from Såtenäs flew at theJersey International Air Display, says Bert Stenfeldt in a blog post inforsvarsmakten.

The three aircraft, with pilots Stellan Andersson, Olle Norén and Lars Martinsson arrived in Jersey on 11 September, to perform at the Air Display the next day.

Organized by Jersey International Air Display A.R.L. on behalf of the Royal Air Force Association (Jersey), the Air Display aims to help raise funds for Forces Charities. The display was held at St. Aubin's Bay which provided a great natural amphitheatre for the display aircraft and also offered the spectators a wide variety of vantage points.

According to the blog post, the high points of SwAFHF in 2012 include AJS 37 Viggen (with pilot Stellan Andersson), flying for the first time on 27 March after 12 years on the ground. This drew attention and interests from aviation enthusiasts across the world.

“2012 has been overwhelming.  SwAFHF’s priority has always been to give the spectators, collaborative partners, agencies and members pleasurable experiences through seeing and hearing veteran aircraft in the air”, says Bert.

Photo: Jan Jørgensen / www.nordicairpower.com

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F17 recently participated in the Joint Warrior 2012 and CQWI (Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor Course) based at RAF, Lossiemouth in Scotland, says a blog post on the Swedish Defence website,forsvarsmakten.

Joint Warrior is a multinational exercise conducted in the UK twice a year and involves air, land and naval forces. CQWI on the other hand is an exercise that is held on an annual basis in the RAF which involves practicing in large composite aircraft under a high threat environment.

The complexity of such an exercise demands financing and realistic threat scenarios. It is difficult to train both radio- and radar- disturbed environment against a force superior in numbers in an area defended by air defence - all on your own. Many units and many capabilities must be applied, which creates great complexity.

F 17 participated in one session every day of CQWL. According to the blog post, the exercise had 40-60 aircraft participating which included HAWK, British and German Tornado, Typhoon, DA20, E3, Sentinel, and last but not least, the Gripen.

The exercise module in the exercise is a flexible one, where any changes in the structure can be made on a short notice. Both the exercises provide the participating units with valuable experience and a chance to practice various skills which are difficult to practice at home.

Photo Courtesy: forsvarsmakten​

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In an interview withNZZ, Saab vice chairman Lennart Sindahl says the new Gripen fighter aircraft will be a very new and a very modern aircraft.

“The Gripen E for Switzerland will be brand-new aircraft, built from scratch. All parts, hardware and software are new and still unused. You can be part of the rest of our group of customers and then help determine how we develop the Gripen E later,” Lennart Sindahl says.

Explaining more about the new model of Gripen, he says, “It is a newly developed aircraft, built on proven models. Important parts, such as engine, radar and weapons are new. They make the aircraft more intelligent and persevering. The Gripen E might not be the strongest or the fastest jet in the market, but will be the latest, the most modern. In modern military aviation, terminal velocity and acceleration are not important anyway, but the radar, sensors, communications and weapons are."

Read the full interview:"Der Kampf Pilot gegen Pilot ist Geschichte" in Neue Zürcher Zeitung

Photo: armasuisse

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