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The Smart Fighter

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It has been two decades since the Gripen fighters entered operational service with the Swedish Air Force. In the last 20 years, SwAF Gripen has undertaken a variety of mission roles including that of air defence, ground attack and reconnaissance.

According to a report in, Gripen C/D was developed with interoperability in mind so that the Swedish Air Force could fully participate in joint UN and NATO operations and integrate air forces from other countries. Gripen was also developed to be able to have short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities. The fighter doesn't always need a runway to land and take-off. It can land and take-off on short, actual roads as well.

Gripen's substantial contribution (which included 650 missions, almost 2,000 flight hours and more than 150,000 reconnaissance photos) to the Libyan mission in 2011 was noted by NATO. Gripen, being compatible with various international equipment, was successfully integrated into all systems during the missions. Recently, in a joint exercise named Ruska, the participating SwAF Gripen were successfully integrated with the air defense system of Finland.  

The first Gripen entered service with the Swedish Air Force in June 1996. In autumn 1997, the first squadron became operational at F7 Såtenäs. Today, SwAF has 72 Gripen C/D fighters in service and has placed 60 Gripen E variants on order.

Read the full story here.

Gripen E development reached another milestone last week with the fighter flying supersonic for the first time. The test flight took place in Linköping and everything went according to plan. 

Gripen E made its maiden flight in June. Since then, the fighter has logged several test flights. 

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Saab has appointed Marcelo Lima as the General Director for Saab Aeronautics Assemblies (SAM), the Brazilian plant which will provide the aerostructure components for Gripen E/F.

SAM will be located in São Bernardo do Campo, the metropolitan region of São Paulo. Gripen parts like aerodynamic brakes, wings, front fuselage (both single-seat and double-seat versions) and rear fuselage will be produced at this plant.

"Marcelo Lima is a very experienced professional with deep knowledge of projects similar to SAM. He will add local and international knowledge into this project, which is fundamental to the Gripen program, "says Mikael Franzén, head of Business Unit, Gripen Brazil.

Most of the SAM staff will be sent to the Saab facility in Linköping, Sweden for training, post which they will start working on their projects in Brazil. All this comes under the transfer of technology aspect of the Gripen Brazil programme.

The transfer of technology process started in 2015 with 46 employees from Embraer and two from AEL Sistemas landing in Sweden for training. A year later, the Gripen Project Development Center (GDDN), was inaugurated in Gavião Peixoto, São Paulo.

Read the full story here.

Last month, Gripen performed at the Breitling Scion Airshow in Switzerland. Besides Gripen, the airshow had participation of other fighters like F-16 Falcon, Eurofighter Typhoon, helicopters, wingwalkers and historic warbirds as well.

Ruska 17, in which both the Swedish and the Finnish Air Forces participated, came to an end on Friday.

The exercise, which took place between 9 and 13 October, was aimed at developing interoperability and testing the use of precision-guided air-to-ground weapons. This year, the Swedish Air Force Gripen fighters were integrated in the air defense system of Finland during the exercise.

As per a report in The Baltic Post, Gripen fighters’ missions with the Finnish F/A-18 multirole fighters showed significant interoperability at Ruska 17.

“Swedish Air Force took part in Ruska as a part of both the defensive Blue force and their adversary," Brigadier General Jari Mikkonen, Finnish Air Force, says. “We showed that both our procedures and our systems are interoperable, enabling us to deepen our cooperation further. By taking part in each other’s exercises, we make more extensive and versatile air operations possible and also develop our capabilities.”

Image Courtesy:  Louise Levin/Försvarsmakten​

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A Gripen fly-past commemorated 30 years of South African Air Force Base, AFB Makhado's service last week. The fly-past was followed by an aerial display.

AFB Makhado is the SAAF fighter base where the country’s Gripen fighters, BAE Systems, and Hawk fighter trainers are stationed. AFB Makhado, which was opened on 14 October 1987, houses 2 Squadron, one of the most prestigious units in the SAAF. 

AFB Makhado received its first Gripen in March 2008.

Aurora, one of the main Swedish military exercises, had the Air Force taking on both sea and ground targets this year. Here are some images from the exercise.

Image Courtesy: Luftstridsskolan and Forsvarsmakten

The Indian Air Force will start the process to acquire single-engine jets very soon, according to Chief of Air Staff, B S Dhanoa.

“The RFI for the single-engine fighter is likely to be issued very soon,” Dhanoa said addressing a press conference. He also added that IAF will give priority to the single-engine fighters as the twin-engine fighters will cost more.

The fighter jets will be produced jointly by a foreign aircraft maker along with an Indian company under the recently launched strategic partnership model which aims to bring in high-end defence technology to India, reports the Economic Times.

Saab's Gripen offer to India is in line with the Government’s plans for “Make in India” where Saab, in partnership with Indian companies, will work on developing capability at all levels within the country.

Read about Saab's offer to India here.

swedish gripen3_peterliander.jpg The Swedish Air Force is participating with eight Gripen and an Argus airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft at the Finish Air Force exercise Ruska 17.

The exercise, that started today, has more than 60 aircraft and about 4,500 personnel participating. The goal of the exercise is to train the Finnish Defence Forces to work with other kinds of aircraft.

Ruska is Finland’s largest military exercise. This is the second time that SwAF Gripen have been sent for participation. The eight Gripen aircraft will act in both offensive and defensive roles during the exercise.

Ruska 17 will end on 13 October.

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In an interview with, Swedish Air Force fighter pilot Henrik Björling explains how it feels like to fly a Gripen fighter.

“Gripen is my favorite fighter. It's an airplane built for the pilot. It's easy to fly and perform in,” he says.

Talking about how a regular day at work looks like, Björling says that it starts early. At first, there is a meeting with the Project Manager to discuss the flight plans of the day. This is followed by some test flights, desktop work, regular training processes etc. 

Björling understands that people are impressed with his profession, but he has his feet firmly planted on the ground. “Movies and games paint a glamorous picture. In reality, we are ordinary people who are lucky enough to fly a Gripen during our working hours,” he says.

Read the full story here.

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