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Last week, Thursday, June 15, Gripen E made its maiden flight. It was a fantastic moment and so did our followers think in our social channels as well. Here is a compilation of posts from our Twitter followers showing their love. Get the best of Gripen E Twitter posts here​.​

​"Gripen made its maiden flight with fully qualified software for the revolutionary avionics system. This gives us the confidence that the rest of our program will run on schedule," said Jonas Hjelm, Senior VP and Head of Saab Business Area, Aeronautics during a press conference yesterday.

“It is a historic moment for Saab.”

Hjelm added that from the beginning, Saab has maintained that Gripen E is a smart fighter. “And it is smart in so many ways. With the split avionics, we can adapt Gripen to meet the requirements of future, that too in a very short lead time. This means Gripen E pilots will always be ahead and prepared for ever-evolving battle scenarios.”

"We did it. It was indescribable. Magic," said the super excited Marcus Wandt, test pilot who flew Gripen E. Wandt said that if someone asked him five years back about the number of expected safety checks after a maiden test flight, he would have said five maybe.  “But today, with Gripen E, there was not a single malfunction. It was super stable,” he said.

​Four new Royal Thai Air Force pilots have graduated now. These pilots are now qualified to fly Gripen fighters. Here are some images from the ceremony that was held to celebrate their achievement. 

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Image Courtesy: RTAF

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Caslav Open Day attracted more than 45,000 visitors this year. One of the main highlights of the event was Gripen's aerial display by new Czech display pilot Captain Ivo Kardoše.

Captain Kardoše has flown more than 500 flight hours in the Gripen aircraft. On being asked about a display pilot’s training process, he says that he has learnt everything from his predecessors. "It is up to me to continue in their footsteps and maintain the tradition of Czech Gripen's brilliant performances at airshows," he says.

Captain Kardoše also talked about what a normal day in the life of a pilot looks like. "The day starts with the distribution of flight assignments, followed by a briefing on weather, training space etc. Pilots then get ready for their training missions which may involve other aircraft from foreign countries as well. Due to this, the preparation can take several hours. After the flight, the evaluation process begins where feedback is given to everyone involved. Besides these regular training missions, we also train on simulators, train younger pilots and prepare for international exercises," he adds.

Captain Ivo Kardoše has flown various aircraft but his favourite has been Gripen. "My dream finally came true with Gripen," he says. He will be performing Gripen aerial displays at various airshows around the world for the next three years. This year alone, he has 15 performances scheduled.

Read the full story here.

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Adam Nelson from Air Base F17, is the adversary. He is the target that others have to intercept during the TTP (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures)exercise. Flying out of Air Force Division F 21 in Luleå, Sweden, Adam has to train air force pilots to hone their skills.

TTP is an annual Swedish air force exercise aimed to increase military capabilities and combat-readiness. This was the eighth TTP exercise and teams from Norway and Finland also participated under current Cross Border Training Agreement.

The training helps pilots improve interoperability. It also aims to increase their ability to handle live ammunition. One difference from previously completed TTP exercises was that this time, pilots flew Gripen fighters that have been upgraded to the MS20 configuration.

“It means we are learning ways to use the new capabilities of the fighter during exercises like this,” Adam says.

“During TTP, we developed techniques that will be useful in future. This exercise makes us better prepared for future exercises like Aurora,” he adds.

Read the full story here

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Vayu’s Angad Singh strapped into a Saab Gripen at Aero India 2017, for a ‘hands on’ experience of a lifetime!

“Arm seat,” says a voice in my ear. This is the point of no return, as I head to Yelahanka’s 3-kilometre runway in the rear seat of a Saab Gripen D. I depress the catch that secures the ejection seat arming mechanism and push the switch from the ‘safe’ position to ‘armed.’ This simple action, more than anything in the past ninety-odd minutes, drives home the reality of what is about to happen.

“Seat armed,” I reply, trying my darndest to sound like a fighter pilot. I am not certain I succeeded. 

Waves of heat radiate off the asphalt runway, baked by the midday sun. Holding short to the north side of the runway as we line up are two Tejas LCA trainers, readying to depart after us. Behind us and lined up to the right of the centreline is another two-seat Gripen D. We wait for what seems like an eternity, made worse by the nerves that seem to amplify the discomfort of my g-suit. In reality it was probably only a few seconds from line up to ATC clearance for take-off. My pilot, Saab’s Wing Commander Flying, Hans Einerth, doesn’t waste time or words – he releases the brakes as soon as ATC gives him the word. 

This is not so bad, I think to myself. My anxiety begins to subside as we gather speed in much ...

​​ What is most important for a fighter pilot? To have more information than the opponent, says Mats Thorbiornson. And that is what makes Gripen unique. 

A former aircraft technician with the Swedish Air Force, Mats Thorbiornson is now a Gripen test pilot. With experience in flying Saab’s Viggen, and around 40 to 50 different kinds of aircraft from the U.S., Russia and France, Mats has tested his mettle when it comes to flying and maintaining fighter aircraft. He was one of the Gripen pilots present at Aero India 2017. 

So how did an aircraft technician become a pilot? On being asked, Mats said that during his tenure in the Swedish Air Force as a technician, he had the opportunity to write the pilot test and he performed well in it. The rest, as they say, is history.

For a man who has been flying Gripen for so long, he says that his favourite part of the Gripen fighter is its versatility as an aircraft. Gripen’s ability to perform air-to-air, and surface-to-air missions makes it a viable multi-role fighter. With just the push of a few buttons, one can switch missions on-board the aircraft.

The ease of flying Gripen is best demonstrated when one gets to manoeuvre the aircraft. As Mats says in another interview withDeccan Herald​, “One feels very safe when doing manoeuvres in a Gripen. You feel absolutely secure when you are flying in low altitude, negotiating a bad weather or while involved in a dangerous mission because ...

So, what’s the big difference between flying fighter jets a couple of decades back and today? When asked this question, Gripen test pilot Anders Håkansson had this to say:

“There were no computers when I began my career in the Swedish Air Force and we didn’t have the luxury of trying and testing on the simulators as we have today. I began my career by flying the Saab 37 Viggen, a mighty aircraft, before I started handling the Gripen.”

“Over the last two decades, technology has changed everything in the world of fighter planes. From taking-off to coordinating with the ground forces, technological advancements have transformed the way pilots fly today. Anders, who has trained many Gripen pilots, says that the younger generation knows computers and hence can adapt to technology in a better way. There is no need to teach them step by step. They just need to be taught how to handle the system and do the tactics since they are fast learners,” he adds.

Anders is a veteran of the Swedish Air Force for almost 30 years and was one of the Gripen test pilots who participated in Aero India 2017. He has the experience of flying Gripen for 17 years and has an acute understanding of the capabilities and specifications of the aircraft.

From A/B to C/D and E/F, Gripen has come a long way over the last few decades. According to Jonas Jakobsson, another Gripen test pilot, the fighter has undergone several design changes ...

As we speak, our preparations for Aero India 2017 are in full swing. André, our display pilot, is ready to put up a great show in a couple of days. Watch how he prepares for a flying display and what he says about pulling some G’s in front of a demanding crowd of spectators. ​​

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Lovisa Sandelin from Ludvika, Central Sweden, is the first woman to graduate as a SwAF fighter pilot since 2004. She has graduated from the aviation school in Linköping, Southern Sweden, along with 22 other students and they have a few more years of training to undergo until, eventually, they have the skills to fly the Gripen fighter. 

Sandelin isn’t focused on the attention she has received due to her gender. “I see it more as something personal. Getting my pilot’s wings is a big milestone for me just as my male colleagues see it is a big milestone in their lives, so I maybe don’t focus so much on the fact that I’m a woman,” she says. She also pointed out that it is imperative for more women to apply and join the Swedish Armed and Air Forces.

Until the early 1990s, women were not qualified to become fighter pilots. This has changed over the years with many countries lifting this ban one after another. Typically perceived as a male-oriented job, the profession has seen very few women applying.

“Public perception of the profession being a typically male one could be an explanation for why so few women opt to become fighter pilots in Sweden,” says Swedish Air Force’s Air Combat School Mats Juhlander.

"But it isn’t. The Armed Forces opened as an occupation for both sexes in 1989,” he adds.

Read the full story here.

Image Courtesy: Forsvarsmakten​

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