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During the cold war, Sweden felt threatened by the Warsaw Pact countries. The country needed an aircraft that could outperform and outmanoeuvre a larger force of advanced fighters.

The north of Sweden is an unforgiving land with long, freezing winters and largely unpopulated areas. It presents a harsh environment to operate an aircraft – yet it was this place that gave birth to Gripen.

Defending these vast areas required a fighter that could perform air-to-air, air-to-surface and reconnaissance missions in a single sortie, without the need to return to base for reconfiguration.

Gripen was also designed to use roads as temporary runways, allowing the Air Force to use logistical flexibility and speed to keep an invading force at bay. Easy maintenance and reconfiguration was also vital, as it would need to be performed by Swedish conscripts with only 10 weeks’ training – usually outdoors in freezing, isolated conditions.

Read the full story here​.

​At LIMA 2017, an RTAF Gripen Fighter performed aerial displays for the audience. Here are a few images chronicling the performance.

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Getting ready for the flight
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Engineers getting the aircraft ready for the display
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The Malaysian Defence Minister with the RTAF Gripen display team

Photo credit: Richard Cooper @COAPPhoto​

​Here are some pictures from the ongoing Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) 2017.

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A visitor flies Gripen in Virtual Reality
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Chief of Air Force, Sri Lanka at the Saab stand
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1st Admiral Zulkarnain, MMEA Northern Region, and Dato’ Rahman, Deputy Director General MMEA, at the Saab stand
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RTAF Gripen preparing for display rehearsal

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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 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.

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​Major General Mats Helgesson talks about the meteor missile integration to the Swedish Air Force Gripen and why it is an important capability. ​​

​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 ...

Jonas Jakobsson, Experimental Test pilot at Saab takes you through a Gripen simulator and explains how it demonstrates the capabilities of the Swedish fighter.

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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.

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The Gripen Blog shares stories and discussions on the Gripen aircraft. The Blog does not vouch for the authenticity of the reports from other publications that have been quoted.
 
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