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It is 10:25 in the morning at Čáslav air base and the sunrays are only just beginning to stream through the morning fog. There is no wind, all one can hear is the whistling sound of two Gripen fighters leaving their hangar. Soon, the whistle turns into a roar as the fighters ascend towards the sky. This is how a typical morning at the air base looks like.

The Czech Republic has been using Gripen system for over ten years to protect its airspace. The country also uses the fighters for NATO missions in countries like Iceland.

"The fighters are on constant standby to identify, escort, and if necessary, fight invasion of Czech airspace. Additionally, they also provide support to civil aviation, including escorting and providing guided landing of civilian aircraft, in case of technical failure or bad weather conditions,” says Jan Ducha, Ground Personnel commanding officer of the Czech Air Force.

Recounting his experience at this year's NATO Tiger Meet exercise in Saragosa, Spain, Jan says that Gripen is very easy to use and requires less staff as compared to other similar aircraft. Other countries participating with other aircraft systems brought up to 25 people per aircraft. To fly a Gripen, one needs only one pilot, one engineer and a mechanic (per aircraft), Jan adds. 

"What use is an aircraft of, if it is in a hangar, waiting for spare parts or if you need so much staff to attend to it that you cannot afford to fly ...

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Saab is in the process of responding to an Indian Navy request for information (RFI) with Gripen Maritime that is it has been developing with UK and Brazilian engineers, reports Jane's.

Speaking at the Gripen Annual Seminar in Stockholm, Jerker Ahlqvist, head of the Gripen programme, said that Saab was confident about the potential of Gripen Maritime and hopefully it would become a full development programme.

The Gripen Maritime, is currently in its concept stage. According to Saab, there will be 95% commonality with Gripen E and F, which means Gripen M will share their exceptional lifetime system affordability. “We are still in the phase of concept studies at the moment, and we are evaluating the market needs. We have used UK engineers with Harrier experience in the past, and now we have Brazilian engineers working on the project,” Jerker said.

Another report in DefenseUpdate.in, says that the Indian Navy plans to procure 57 fighters for a net worth of about US $12 billion and the selection of the aircraft would depend on what kind of launch system will be used aboard the new carrier which is currently under construction.

Gripen Maritime will have a strengthened undercarriage, bigger brakes, and a beefed-up tail hook along with advanced data link and extensive electronic warfare self-protection suite that can be configured to meet specific user requirements. Gripen Maritime is intended for both CATOBAR as well as STOBAR operations. "Gripen is designed for narrow roads, and so would be perfect ...

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Saab has offered new fully NATO-interoperable Gripen C/D fighter aircraft to Bulgaria, reports Reuters.

"Sweden has submitted a highly competitive offer for new fully NATO-interoperable Gripen C/D fighter aircraft," Saab says. "A new fleet of Gripen aircraft can be delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force within a short time of contract signature."

Besides Sweden, Bulgaria has received offers from Italy and Portugal as well. According to Reuters sources, a working group will examine these offers by the end of the month, after which further negotiations will be conducted with the preferred bidder.

Bulgaria is looking to replace its ageing fleet of Russian Mikoyan MiG-29 ‘Fulcrums’ and Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoots’. The Bulgarian government approved the acquisition of a squadron of new multirole fighter aircraft a year ago. The replacements are expected to arrive between 2018 and 2020.

Read the full story here.


​​​​Last week, Swedish Air Force conducted mobile readiness exercise on a public road in the south western part of Sweden. Guests, from both Sweden and outside the country were invited to watch the exercise.

Video Courtesy: Swedish Air Force

​Srinjoy Chowdhury, Senior Editor at Times Now​, who flew Gripen at Aero India 2017, says it was an experience of a lifetime.

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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 ...

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Hungarian Gripen fighters have been scheduled to perform aerial displays after almost seven years at the NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days this year.

Hungarian Gripen fighters have participated in the Czech event many times before but it was mostly kept on static display. This year, a Hungarian Gripen will perform aerial display along with a Czech Gripen.

‘NATO Days in Ostrava & Czech Air Force Days’ is the largest and the most popular air-defence technology event in the Czech Republic and Central Europe. About  200,000 visitors attend the event every year.

The event will on 16 and 17 September this year at Ostrava Leos Janacek Airport.

Read the full story here.

​​ 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 ...

“Are you ready, Jugal?” 

These were the four words that marked the most awaited moment of his life for India Today’s Senior Special Correspondent Jugal R Purohit who got an opportunity to fly Gripen at Aero India 2017.

Jugal flew Gripen alongside Captain Fredrik Barske of the Swedish Air Force, who briefed him about the fighter’s various capabilities: air-to-air attack, air-to-ground attack, reconnaissance, jamming enemy aircraft and networking with friendly fighters to lead a coordinated attack. 

Jugal underwent a series of medical tests including blood profile, urine profile and electrocardiogram (ECG). He also received a backseat briefing to understand the usage of things like ejection seats and get a hang of communication during the flight. Within a few minutes, they pulled up to 20,000 ft, flying at the speed of sound.​

"From looping to barrel roll to split to vertical climb up to 20,000 ft from low level, each of these manoeuvres we underwent made me realise the essence of training," he says.

At the end of the flight, Jugal became the 1,807th member of the Gripen club which consists of a few royals, mostly uniformed personnel and a handful of enthusiasts.

Read the full story here.

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