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The Smart Fighter

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DanielLaven.jpgThe Gripen Demonstrator, the development vehicle for the Gripen NG, has by now been flown by a number of airforces, including the India Air Force during its extensive trials in Sweden and India. Among the people who have flown the the Gripen Demo are Swedish test pilots who have had a close involvement with the program.

When asked about his impressions of the aircraft, Major Daniel Lavén, an operational test pilot from the Swedish Air Force Gripen Operational Test and Evaluation Unit, said, “This new version of Gripen will certainly not disappoint any user in any air force. The increased thrust, fuel, payload together with new sensor and weapon suites form an interesting package.”

Major Lavén  recently carried out his first sortie on Gripen Demonstrator as a part of the program partnership with end users. Major Daniel Lavén is one of Swedish Air Force’s most experienced Gripen pilots and has more than twenty years of flying frontline fighter squadrons, with the last ten years on Gripen.

With his background as a fighter pilot specialising in Air-to-Air combat, his natural enthusiasm for the new Gripen is self-evident.He believes that the Gripen’s true calling as an air superiority fighter stays uncontested even while being born to the the multi-role stable.

Says Laven, “I know the Air-to-Air arena and I know Gripen. I’ve been to two Red Flag exercises in USA with Gripen and I would say that there was not much in the sky that could challenge us in proper air ...


During a recent official visit to the Czech Republic, the Commander of the Bulgarian Air Force Major-General Konstantin Popov flew the multirole Gripen fighter, according to a Saab report.

Major-General Popov was invited by Brigadier General Jiri Verner, who is Commander of the Czech Air Force. During the visit they discussed the possibilities for bilateral cooperation and the use of modern equipment by the Air Force. Brigadier General Verner acquainted his colleague with the Czech experience of operating Gripen. They also visited the training centre in Pardubice where the Czech Air Force training programmes take place.

According to the report, “Saab is committed to the process of modernising the Bulgarian Air Force and hopes for a transparent tender for the acquisition of fighters expected in 2012.”

four.jpgThe decision to go ahead with the Gripen Next Generation (NG) fighter has already been made by the Swedish government, reports Aviation Week.

If Saab wins one or more of the upcoming fighter competitions — with Brazil and Switzerland among those closest to a decision date — it will affect the timing of Sweden’s own deployment of the Gripen NG, already identified by the Swedish military as the JAS 39E/F. But the decision to acquire the fighter is a done deal, according to the head of Gripen marketing and campaigns, Hans Rosen.

“Sweden has committed itself to using the Gripen beyond 2040,” Rosen said at Malmen Air Base June 12. “The question is when to acquire the Gripen NG, and how many.” The basic program calls for the new variant to enter service in 2017-18, but Sweden has told export customers that it will adjust its schedule so that Sweden deploys the JAS 39E/F before they do, reports Aviation Week.


The Gripen Demo is reaching a degree of maturity that is evident in the speak of people closely associated with the development program. The team got a big boost from the successful flight and in country evaluation in India that took the aircraft all the way to the heat of Jamnagar and thence to cold and thin air of high altitude Leh.

MattiasBergstrom.JPGAccording to Gripen Demo Programme Manager, Mattias Bergström, who controls all schedules, development and integration challenges as well as all key program partners, “The Gripen Demo is creating new frontiers of technology. The programme is indeed demanding but at the same time extremely interesting. We have flown over 135  sorties. Passing the hundred sorties mark wasn’t a goal itself but it proved the programme’s success. After completing phase 1 last year with its focus on engine, aerodynamics and performance, we are now working with sensor and communication packages.”

According to Begstrom, speaking late last month, “Right now the tests are focusing on the new AESA radar, Missile Approach Warners, Satellite Communication and new digital fast data links. Thereafter, we will continue the test programme with focus on avionics.”

If on the ground Mattias is happy with the progress, in air, Saab test pilot Magnus Ljungdahl is no less delighted while talking about a recent flight when he flew the Gripen Demonstrator aircraft in supercruise. The supercruise flight was part of the ongoing high speed supersonic testing that will include supersonic flights, with different load alternatives.

MagnusLjungdahl.JPG“The flight ...

eight.jpgPeter Nilsson, Vice President, Operational Capabilities at Gripen Marketing is very pleased with the new Gripen programme. He calls the Gripen NG as the ‘big stick’ fighter in a tight suit. In a Q&A for India, Peter talks about the Gripen IN and its promise.

Could you tell us something of the background of the new bigger version Gripen?

With more than 130,000 flying hours in five air forces we are now taking  the next step in the Gripen story. We are  keeping its unique capabilities such as short T/O and landing capabilities, extreme agility, digital cockpit, operational data links, minimized logistics and easy maintenance concept, and repackaging them into a brand new fighter.

What do you mean by saying “a ‘big stick’ fighter in a tight suit”?

We are putting in a new stronger engine in a newly designed structure. We are fitting the fighter with the latest technologies in terms of computer and avionics to support the next generation of sensors and weapons.

peter.JPGWhat does the Gripen IN offer?

For a large nation’s air forces, air operations demand longer range, endurance and payloads. The Gripen IN will certainly not disappoint them. With operational ranges and radius of action longer than our bigger competitors with equal number of weapon stations, it makes the new Gripen a ‘big stick’ fighter in a tight suit.

Why will the new Gripen be a success in the future battle arena?

With a balanced design, strategic reach, enhanced awareness and increased firepower, the ...

Silver_Falcons.jpgThe South African Air Force’s Silver Falcons display team will be wowing the crowd at the opening ceremony of the FIFA 2010 soccer World Cup alongside 2 Squadron flying the country’s premier fighter, the Saab Gripen.

“The SAAF will be taking part at the opening ceremony … and the world at large will witness a combined display from Silver Falcons and the newly acquired high-tech fighter jets – the Gripens,” the military says in a statement. “The SAAF is proud to be part of this event as it will contribute to a safe and secure event.”

The Silver Falcons operate the Pilatus PC7 MkII Astra.

The SAAF is playing a major role in safeguarding the month-long event and has deployed mobile radar as well as the Gripen, the BAE Systems Hawk Mk 120 light fighter, Astra and Agusta A109 light utility helicopter to enforce no fly zones around participating sports stadiums. Denel Oryx helicopters as well as Casa and Lockheed Martin C130 Hercules transports are on standby to provide airlift to police and special forces safeguarding the soccer spectacular.

One of the high points of the hours-long opening ceremonies for the 2010 FIFA World Cup is a fly past by the South African Air Force (SAAF), involving the Silver Falcons aerobatic team and three Gripen multi-role fighters.

SAAF Brigadier General Marthie Visser told Digital Journal that anyone who missed the air display would miss “a good show.” In a media release sent to journalists, the Department of Defence ...

GripenWorldCup454.jpgSouth Africa’s growing fleet of state-of-the-art multi-role Gripen fighters will be deployed in air patrols over Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein, Rustenburg, Polokwane and Nelspruit, which are hosting games, says a Saab Press Release.

The South African Air Force’s Gripens are stationed at 2 Squadron, at AFB Makhado in the Limpopo province. The aircraft were successfully deployed on airspace patrol missions during last year’s FIFA Confederation Cup soccer tournament, a curtain-raiser for this year’s main event. In addition, they have also participated in peace enforcement exercises.

In an earlier report, the Air Chief had laid out the SAAF gameplan for the World Cup. “The focus is on ensuring the airspace is safe”, Chief of the Air Force, Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano, has told defenceWeb. “We have a mix of aircraft because a helicopter cannot take on an airliner that’s diverting from its flight path. The light aircraft will intercept and order mavericks out of (no fly) areas, but if things look bad then you’ll have to send fighters.”

In order to prepare the SAAF and local civilian airspace users, the SAAF and the police held a number of exercises at each of the nine venues, under Exercise Shield. Gagiano says a further exercise is being planned. He adds “we must still negotiate for a little bit of additional funding because the air force will have the largest contingent (from the SANDF) deployed during the Soccer World Cup”.

The SAAF contingent, numbering around 2500 ...

Four new Gripen C advanced light fighters that arrived via ship from Sweden last week departed AFB Ysterplaat, reports Dean Wingrin writing in his unofficial SAAF website.

The single seat aircraft, serials 3912 to 3915, had been towed the 8km from the harbour to AFB Ysterplaat on Thursday and Friday last week. The aircraft spent the week at the Cape Town airbase being made flight ready and had conducted several flight tests, to the delight of local aviation enthusiasts.

The Gripen will play a key part in the air force’s plans to safeguard the airspace above the stadiums during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. The first match of the World Cup is on 11 June, so it is thought that the two Gripens which left for AFB Overberg will be used to keep the skies clear of Cape Town.

The SAAF received an additional four new Gripen C fighter aircraft last week, according to a report in an unofficial website on the South African Airforce.

Arriving on board the cargo vessel Achtergracht (registered in Amsterdam) on Thursday last, the four aircraft were offloaded in Table Bay Harbour this morning. They had been loaded onboard the vessel at the port of Norrkoping in Sweden.

The single seat aircraft, serials 3912 to 3915, were then towed the 8km from the harbour to AFB Ysterplaat in two convoys of two aircraft each. They will be made ready for flight at the airforce base prior to departure.

With all nine dual-seat Gripen D aircraft already delivered, these four aircraft will join the first two Gripen Cs that arrived on 11 February this year. The Gripen will play a key part in the air force’s plans to safeguard the airspace above the stadiums during the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

The original order was for nine Gripen D dual-seat and 19 Gripen C single-seat aircraft. However, the order was revised in 2005 to nine dual-seat and seventeen single-seat aircraft. The first instrumented Gripen D was delivered in April 2008 and is based at the SAAF’s Test flight and Development Centre near Bredasdorp in the southern Cape. The balance of the aircraft is assigned to 2 Squadron at AFB Makhado in the Limpopo province.

gripen_demo.jpgSaab has received an order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) to develop an avionics system for the Swedish Armed Forces’ Gripen aircraft. The order value amounts to MSEK 450, divided over 2 years, according to a Saab Press Release.

The order means that work will begin on a new avionics system, including new computers and displays, which will enter into service 10 years from now.

“Gripen is under continuous development. Computers with the best performance possible today will be viewed as inadequate for the tasks facing Gripen in ten years, when the aircraft must remain modern for a further twenty years. Few high-tech products have a service life as long as Gripen,” says Lennart Sindahl, Vice President at Saab and head of the Aeronautics business area.

The new avionics system will enhance Gripen’s capacity to handle large quantities of complex information with different security classification levels. A new avionics system also makes it possible in the future to introduce new sensors that require altered system architecture.

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