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The Smart Fighter

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GRipen NG.jpg
The Indian MMRCA program is not a closed chapter for Saab which intends to “wait and see” how the developments progress.  A report by Craig Hoyle inFlight Global quotes Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe attributing New Delhi’s “rather surprising decision” to concerns over the developmental status of  the Gripen NG. According to Buskhe, saying, “We were not selected – at least not yet.”  He said “what we can do is give them our explanation if we feel they have misjudged something”.

The report quotes Buskhe saying: “We have a list of things that they have some questions about, and we have been looking at those.” With extended bids from the remaining contenders valid only until late December, Saab has decided to maintain a presence in support of the campaign in India. “We will wait and see,” said Buskhe.

If the concern of the IAF was on the ‘development status’ of the NG, it seems to be well on its way to flying a  prototype with the new avionics system in a few weeks time and a new-build Gripen NG in 2012.

Bill Sweetman writing inAviation Week, says “Stealth, meanwhile, appears to be the hallmark of Gripen development, in that it is moving forward under a shroud of non-publicity. Sweden has taken the strategic decision to retain a small but capable air force, which will be based on Gripen until at least 2040. The only currently planned route to that goal is through the JAS 39E/F Gripen NG.

Libyan Mission.jpg

“Just announced our continued contribution to NATO Libya ops. Five Gripen for reconnaissance support to all activities. Unique capabilities.” That’s what Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted to report the continuance of Gripen’s duty over Libya.

Sweden will remain part of the NATO-led operation in Libya and contribute jet fighters to ongoing reconnaissance operations. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt after securing support from two the opposition parties said, ‘It is necessary to maintain military pressure to speed up political change.’

Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, has since April contributed eight JAS Gripen jet fighters to help patrol a no-fly zone approved by the United Nations Security Council. The Swedish mission, which excludes using the aircraft to attack targets on the ground, was set to expire June 22. According to the new agreement, three jet fighters are to be withdrawn, while five remain. The planes could also provide information about refugee flows or ship movements, Urban Ahlin of the Social Democrats said. Asa Romson of the Greens said there was a need to continue to protect civilians in Libya and fund humanitarian agencies.



Photographs: Sgt Johan Lundahl/Combat Camera and FL 01/Försvarsmakten

Photo courtesy:Swedish Armed Forces Website​

More photos from FL 01 daily missions over Libyan territory. The picturesshow the Libyan anti-aircraft system SA-2. The systems currently look to be not operational but the Swedish Air Force says that the Libyan regime constantly changes the status. 


According to the Swedish Air Force blog, there are anti-aircraft missiles within the perimeters of Tripoli and many are transported on trailers. Often, some of them are kept close to civilian settlements. The photograph above shows a trailer just outside the wall of a residential area.


FL 01 Commander Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Wilson has on theSwedish Air Force blogpublished another photo showing the airport in Misrata. FL 01 has so far delivered about 70,000 photos to Nato, says Wilson. He points out that the photograph shows operational Libyan aircraft.

According to Wilson, FL 01 activities that deal with the no-fly zone (NFZ) over Libya has been continuing with unchanged momentum. The daily missions of the NATO attempt to determine whether, and if so how, either the Libyan regime or the rebels can fly, fly or have flown.According to Wilson, “At one of these missions we flew over Misrata airfield. This controlled for some time by the rebels but they have as little right as the Libyan regime to fly with their resources. In the photo above you can see the aircraft at the time was at the base.”

Says Wilson in the blog, “For those readers who appreciate the comparison of images FL 01 in comparison to that delivered by other actors, I recommend that you look closely at the planes that are presented on the plate to the left. These have over time fluctuated both in numerical force, type and operational status.

Anearlier write up​on the blog noted that the airspace over Libya was closed and it was the NATO-led coalition’s goal to ensure that it remains so. The only aircraft allowed by the coalition were those that deliver relief supplies to civilians in Libya.

The first flight of the JAS ...

From first flight on April 7 through Thursday, May 12,FL-01 has completed 104 missionsin the Libyan operation. About 65 000 pictures have been taken.

Every day there are flights from the NATO-led coalition in the air to protect civilians in Libya, to monitor the arms embargo enforced and to ensure that there is no breach of the no-fly zone, says the Swedish Armed Forces.  FL 01 carries out reconnaissance missions and photographs objects or activity that can threaten the no-fly zone, ranging from anti-aircraft positions at air bases to missile trailers.

According to a pilot, flying is risky, specially as there are threats from the ground. Coalition aircraft have been “lit up” from time to time. “Illumination” of the aircraft by air defense system means that there is someone with a system, such as a radar, trying to find the aircraft in the air. The aircraft’s warning system “lights up” warning of a potential radar lock which, if successful, may lead to the firing of a missiles against the aircraft. That in itself is a threat to a no-fly zone. therefore it is important to find and photograph these threats.

The FL 01 has now flown over a hundred missions and all ten pilots in the unit have flown ten missions.

​The South African Air Force has received three new Gripen C fighter aircraft, with one aircraft to join the fleet next year.The single seat aircraft, with serial numbers 3917, 3918 and 3919, were towed to Air Force Base Ysterplaat and will be made ready for flight at the air force base prior to departing for Makhado.

With all dual-seat Gripen D aircraft already delivered, these three aircraft will join the Gripen Cs that were delivered in early 2010.​


Eight Gripen fighter aircraft from the Swedish Armed Forces are currently taking part in the NATO led UN mission in Libya.

The formal decision to participate in the UN mission was taken by the Swedish Parliament in the beginning of April 2011.

In total, the Swedish Armed Forces will deploy up to 130 people for this mission, including ten Gripen pilots, for a period of up to three months. The Gripen fighters are now based at Sigonella, Sicily, Italy.This Swedish Gripen force is designated FL 01 and is basically the Expeditionary Air Wing, which was formed as a part of the EU´s Nordic Battle Group. In addition to the eight Gripen C/D aircraft, FL 01 also consists of a C-130 Hercules, says a Saab release.

The Gripen force was rapidly deployed from the Swedish Air Force F 17 Wing at Ronneby, Sweden, and all were in place at Sigonella within just two days following the Parliament’s decision.

According to Saab, the Swedish Air Force is well prepared for the mission, having taken part in numerous international exercises over a period of many years, notably the Red Flag exercises in USA since 2006. In these exercises, Gripen has shown that it is a multi-role fighter, with full capability to operate in air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance roles.

The mandate from the Swedish Parliament for this mission does not include air-to-ground operations, so the Swedish AF Gripen will operate in the air defence and reconnaissance roles over Libya, enforcing the No-Fly Zone.

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