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​CNBC's Managing Editor Shereen Bhan was in Linköping last week to see what goes behind the production of Gripen E and experience a flight in Gripen.

Bhan traveled to Sweden for CNBC-TV18’s special series ‘Make In India: A New Deal For Defence’. Saab has made public its offer to develop, manufacture and assemble Gripen fighters in India should the country choose it.

Bhan flew with Saab’s Wing Commander Flying, Hans Einerth, who showed her the agility and speed of the aircraft during the 55 minutes sortie. She had the control for ten minutes.

For Bhan, it was a memorable ride. She has almost lived her entire life near air force bases as her father was a fighter pilot. "It was one of the coolest moments of my life," she says.

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Czech display pilot Captain Ivo Kardoše from the 211 Squadron of the 21st Tactical Air Force Base Čáslav, has won awards for his performances at airshows like Yeovilton and Fairford.

At the Yeovilton Air Day 2017, which was held on 8 July, about 40,000 visitors got the opportunity to watch the Czech pilot in the air. After a week, Kardoše performed at the RIAT 2017, one of the world's largest airshows. 

The weather was not very good for a flying display, so Kardoše had to make some last minute changes. "I had to choose a variant of the demonstration with lower flight levels and adapt it to the current meteorological situation," he says. Despite the challenges, the Czech test pilot won the award for the best flying demonstration by an overseas participant.

Read the full storyhere.

Image Courtesy: Afbcaslav.cz​

Watch Gripen, Viggen, Draken and Tunnan perform a historical air display in this video. ​

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Sweden will lead the ACE 2019 exercise, reports NSD.se.

Carl-Johan Edström, Squadron Chief at Norrbotten Wing, says that ACE 17 was a successful exercise.

"The weather was great for flying. We did various advanced missions, and next time the exercise is going to be even more complex," he says.

According to Edström, one of the best parts of an exercise like ACE is that it is easy to fly at various heights and over large areas in the northern Nordic region. "That is why this exercise is so much in demand," he says.

Read the full story here.

Image Courtesy: Forsvarsmakten and Luftforsvaret​

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Gripen has for the first time undergone a series of test flights with 100% biofuel. This demonstrates that the aircraft can be flown with an alternative fuel and gives valuable knowledge for future possible use of alternative fuel.

“Demonstrating that Gripen can fly with 100% biofuel is an important step in making Gripen future-safe,” says Göran Bengtsson, Director of Research and Technology, Future Business, Aeronautics. “Gaining independence from imports of oil is important from a defence standpoint and opens the way for additional sources of fuel, which creates flexibility. It's naturally also good if we in the long term can contribute to reducing environmental impact from military aviation.”

This was the first time that a single engine fighter flew with 100% biofuel. The flights were conducted with a Gripen D (dualseat) at Saab’s facilities in Linköping and went entirely as planned.

Read the full story here​.​

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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​​

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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. ​​​

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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 ...

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 with Deccan 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 ...

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