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A student of a Bangalore engineering college flew in the Gripen on Sunday February 13 after successfully going through a series of steps in the Gripen Top Guns contest which was held as part of Aero India 2011 on the website

22-year-old Shashank HR from Bangalore emerged as the Gripen India Top Gun in the month long contest organized by Defence and security company Saab for Indian combat aircraft followers and those with a dream to fly a fighter aircraft.

The top 5 finalists from across the country tested their skills on the Gripen simulator on Saturday and were judged by four top Indian and Swedish test pilots on their aircraft handling and combat skills. Shashank HR is a final year Mechanical Engineer student at the BMS College of Engineering. Shashank was first kitted out in his flight suit on Sunday morning and then extensively briefed by the Gripen Team. Shashank’s Gripen flight, which took off after the morning display, was piloted by Test Pilot Robin Nordlander.

Shashank HR is an avid gamer and qualified through the ACE level of the contest. Shashank had a 50 minute ride on the Gripen fighter aircraft and got a feel of the aircraft during his flight. The aircraft returned in a convoy flying on one flank of the Saab 2000 while the Saab 340 flew on the other. Sitting inside the Saab 2000 and watching their son fly were the parents and sister of Shashank HR, along with media persons and the ...

Gripen Top Guns finalists at the Aero India 2011.jpg
Finalists of the Gripen Top Guns contest.jpg

Finalists of the Gripen Top Guns contest with Ola Rignell.jpg

On Saturday, February 12, the five finalists of the Gripen Top Guns contest that was held in the backdrop of Aero India 2011 tested their skills on the Gripen simulator as four Indian and Swedish ace pilots judged their performance.

The five finalists for the simulator flight were Kashmera Dilip Shah (Bangalore), Chiranth Ashok (Bangalore), Selween Philip Mascarenhas (Chennai), Shaival Rajiv Sheth (Mumbai) and Shashank HR (Bangalore).

While Selween Mascarenhas flew in from Chennai, Mumbai-based Shaival had been at the Aero show well before he knew that he made it to the finals of the Gripen Top Guns contest. ( The other finalists Chiranth Ashok, Kashmera Shah and Shashank HR joined the contest from Bangalore. The excitement had also spread to the other cities. The Mumbai Midday prominently carried the news of the Mumbai contest as one of the finalists.

Suited up in their flight suits, the contest had a tight finish with Shashank HR emerging as the Gripen Top Gun who will fly the Gripen fighter on Sunday. After the contest, all five contenders went to the Gripen on static display and got a first hand look at the aircraft before meeting up with the media.


“It was a tough choice between the five finalists who gave the Indian and Swedish jury much to evaluate. Finally, Shashank was chosen among the final contenders for his performance on the simulator. We are delighted at the great response and interest in this contest. What was amazing was that people in ...


On the inaugural day, Indian Union Minister of State for Defence Mr M M Pallam Raju took a turn at the Gripen simulator.

At a well-attended press conference in Bangalore today, Saab CEO Hakan Bushke announced the company’s plan to establish a Research & Development Centre in India.

The press conference was also addressed  by Hakan Jevrell, Vice Minister of Defence, who conveyed the complete support of the Swedish government for full technology transfer. He said that Saab has a great record of delivering on its commitments and the ability to integrate different systems.

In his presentation, Hakan Bushke points out that Saab is pursuing a number of large programs in India including the Gripen IN, the anti-ship missiles (RBS-15 Mk3), the VSHORAD (RBS70 NG) and QR-SRSAM (BAMSE) as well as the Battlefield Management System being offered in collaboration with Mahindra. The Saab 340 and Saab 2000 is being offered to India as a part of the Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance (MRMR) program and Maritime Security.

According to a Saab news release, the aim of the research and development centre is to transfer to India continuously already identified concrete programs and technologies. The Centre will form a bridge between India and Sweden, and together with an initial base of 100-300 skilled Indian engineers form the backbone of the Centre. The areas of focus would cover aerospace, defence and urban innovation including civil security. The Centre will be established in close co-operation with Indian partners and universities.

The first six Saab Gripen fighters ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force will be delivered on Feb 23. The fighters will be assigned to RTAF’s Wing 7 and will be based at Surat Thani province in the south of Thailand. Thailand has twelve Gripens on order.

Air force commander Itthaporn Subbawong says he is looking forward to personally test flying the first six Gripen jet fighters, which are due to arrive next month, reports Bangkok Post.

ACM Itthaporn says the six Swedish-made Gripen fighters will be delivered on Feb 23. The jets will be stationed at the Wing 7 air force base in Surat thani province.

“As a fighter pilot I want to make test flights of the fighters, but the test flights will not be made until after the delivery of the aircraft is approved,” said the air force chief. ACM Itthaporn earlier flew on test flights of Gripen fighters in Sweden.

At the time he was air force deputy chief-of-staff. The air force later decided to purchase 12 Gripen fighters at a cost of almost 40 billion baht.

flythegripen1.jpgSaab brings to Indian combat aircraft followers and those with a dream to fly a fighter aircraft a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: To fly the world’s most advanced multi-role fighter aircraft, the Gripen, during its sojourn in Bangalore during Aero India air show between February 9-13.

For the first time ever an ordinary Indian citizen can get on to a fighter aircraft by simply answering a set of questions or flying any flight simulation of the Gripen and entering it at The Gripen Top Guns contest has an amateur and professional level challenge to test the knowledge of aircraft buffs while providing an opportunity for XBOX, PSP and Computer Games buffs the opportunity to enter their best flying effort on the Gripen and take a shot at flying the real Gripen.

The Gripen game entries will be judged by top Swedish and Indian pilots to select a few who will get a shot at flying the real Gripen Aircraft simulator. Out of the five chosen simulator ‘pilots’, one will get to fly the real thing: the JAS 39 Gripen. To top it, for those not really interested in the technical end but love the look and feel of the aircraft, the Gripen Top Guns contest opens a Model Hunt in which 12 participants will make it to the first ever Gripen India Calendar.

“Aero India is a celebration of the love of flying, of fighter aircraft and the world’s best aircraft technologies. Saab is happy to create an opportunity for ...

Three Gripens will fly in to the Aero India 2011 air show in Bangalore between February 9 and 13 at the Air Force station Yelahanka. In addition, Saab will be displaying the Saab 2000 and the Saab 340.

The Gripens and the Saab 2000 and 340 will be participating in the flight displays. Saab has pitched the Gripen IN for the Indian MMRCA programme. The Saab 2000 and Saab 340 aircraft are being fielded for the Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance and the Maritime Patrolling requirements of the Indian Coastguard respectively.

aeroindia2011.JPGSaab will also be displaying a range of systems, including the RBS-15 Mk2 Anti-Ship Missile, the RBS-70 MANPADS missile system, missile simulators, HARD Radar, RIGS Head Up Display, Giraffe Radar and the Carabas Radar.

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