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A fighter aircraft pilot’s life is full of tough challenges and experiences. In a profession where mistakes can lead to life-or-death situations, it is imperative that they are equipped with the best facilities in order to perform their task to the best of their abilities. 

The nature of a pilot’s job sometimes requires flying high and in extreme conditions. Atmospheric pressure and composition at certain heights put the pilot in situations where the lack of proper equipment could be very harmful. To face such conditions, pilot suits have to be equipped and built with the capability to sustain the pilot under duress.

Due to the stress that the suit faces as a result of being exposed to rough conditions, it has to be checked and approved every 6 to 12 months. Such tests include assessing the equipment hoses and pipes which are prone to leaks, condition tests and pressure tests.

The pilot can choose a three lettered code for each piece of equipment and accordingly, a unique serial number is assigned to each piece. A Gripen pilot’s suit works as a system with each piece having a very specific function, thus making it necessary to wear and maintain each of them. Each pilot also wears absorbent innerwear that absorbs sweat and humidity while preventing condensation. The suits also come in fire and water resistant variants.

Each part of the suit serves a very specific purpose e.g. the jacket has multiple storage options for emergency (medical kits, tools etc.), floatation ...

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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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Preparations are in full swing for the Swedish Armed Forces exercise Aurora this September. All Swedish air wings will participate. The big difference from last year’s exercise is that all levels within the armed forces will participate. Instead of deputed staff and units like in earlier air force exercises, actual staff manning military units will practice together. It’s a big difference and similar to the exercises for building Swedish Armed Forces’ combined capability.

During Aurora 17, the air force will take on both sea and ground targets in operations such as coastal defence where all military units have to coordinate their actions. There will be a lot of airborne action with all available flying resources during the exercise. Apart from Gripen, the exercise would see extensive deployment of air transport and helicopters to support the Army and the Navy.

To get as much as possible out of the exercise and to test Swedish defence capability against a larger opponent, foreign air force units, including those from Finland, will engage as opposing forces as well as be partners in the defence of Sweden. Apart from the Finnish Air Force, units from other countries are expected to participate.

Read the full story here.

Photo Courtesy: Swedish Armed Forces

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The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) has recently placed an order with the Defense Material Administration (FMV) for support of their Gripen aircraft which they acquired from FMV in 2008. The order contract is for a span of three years (2017-2019) and it includes maintenance and spare supply along with technical support and more.   

“It feels very good that we have managed to achieve a longer contract with RTAF. Previously, we had a one-year order and a further order gives FMV better opportunities for planning,” said Martin Mann, FMV's Project Manager for Gripen Thailand. “The new support order marks a successful transition from the delivery phase to the operational phase in Thailand” he said.

The FMV, besides Gripen, also provides support for combat control of two Saab 340 AEW airborne reconnaissance radar, and a transport aircraft Saab 340B to the RTAF. 

The first batch of 12 Gripens were ordered in 2008 and 2011 by the RTAF and delivered in 2011 and 2013 respectively. 

Read the full story here.

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According to a new cooperation plan signed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the two countries will jointly protect their airspace, reports Boston Herald.

The Czech Defence Ministry said that the protection that both the countries receive as NATO members is effective only for military threats. The cooperation plan, however, would cover non-military threats such as a terror attack committed with a civilian passenger jet, as well.

The pact has been approved by the Slovak government but still requires parliamentary and presidential approvals before coming in to effect.

Czech Republic uses Gripen C/D fighter jets for which Slovakia is in negotiation with Sweden to acquire. The Slovakian military uses Russian MiG-29 jets which were acquired in 2004.

Read the full story here.

Photo: Jorgen Nilsson

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Global supplier of wing, fuselage and engine structures, GKN Aerospace has been given a contract extension to continue to provide Gripen's engine support program, reports UPI.

The contract extension encompasses the company's RM12 engines on fighters which is flown by the Air Force of Sweden as well as by countries like Hungary, the Czech Republic and Thailand.

GKN will continue providing technical support as well as provide maintenance and parts required for the engines that power the Gripen aircrafts. GKN also stated that the RM12 engines had clocked in an approximate 250,000 flight hours without any engine related issues arising.   

"GKN Aerospace is proud of our long-term support for Swedish fighter aircraft and we appreciate that the FMV has extended the RM12 PBL-contract," said Mike McCann, CEO of GKN Aerospace Engine Systems. "GKN is looking forward to continuing to work together with the Swedish Armed Forces and the FMV and to further develop our relationship.  We recognize and appreciate the continued confidence that the FMV has demonstrated in our team in placing this contract extension with us."

Currently, the technical support, maintenance and parts supply division by GKN is conducted from its facility in Trollhattan, Sweden.      

Read the full story here.

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Slovakia is looking to replace its aging Russian MiG-29 fighters and Gripen is one of the main contenders, reports Reuters.

The Slovakian government has been in talks with suppliers since September in order to negotiate the best prices. According to Sweden's, Defence Minister Peter Gajdos, it would take months for the government to decide on a supplier.

The Slovakian government, with Czech Republic, signed a “Joint Sky” agreement last December which would ensure protection of each other’s airspace besides the standard air defense cooperation between the two NATO members. Czech Republic currently has 14 leased Saab Gripens which it signed in 2004. If Slovakia were to pick Gripen as its primary fleet then the two countries could also, possibly, share maintenance costs and pilot training.

Read the full story here.

Flight data, track data and night vision.

The Swedish Air Force have ordered  the advanced helmet mounted display system, Targo for their Gripen E fighter aircraft. Pilots equipped with Targo will be able to better locate, track and identify targets, both day and night.

Read more about the Helmet Mounted Display system here​.​

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“The reason for Gripen E's success is relatively simple - it has been developed as a robust and cost-sensitive plane. The fighter builds on the successful design of earlier versions and is not completely redesigned,” a report in Stern says about why the Gripen fighter system became the choice of a number of air forces.

Gripen was developed keeping in mind the Cold War philosophy. The idea was to have a cost-efficient multi-role fighter which could take-off and land on short landing strips. Once developed, Gripen was not just used for the Swedish Air Force, but also exported to countries like Thailand, South Africa, the Czech Republic and Hungary. The latest big order from Brazil has made Gripen the most talked about fighter of the recent times.

The all new Gripen E is super flexible, has an enviable 10-minute operational turnaround time, and boasts of split avionics and a modular system. The split avionics also means that new upgrades and products can be easily added to Gripen at any point in future, without much hassle.

The report also talks about Gripen F, the two seater version of Gripen E that Sweden will produce jointly with Brazil. Gripen F will not just be used as a training aircraft, but also as a fighter for complex missions. After Brazil, India has also shown great interest in the Gripen fighter system. Saab has offered Gripen NG to India under the 'Make In India' initiative with transfer of technology.

Read the full story 

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Welcome to the official Gripen blog by Saab. This site features information and commentary about the Gripen fighter jet.
 
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.
 
The reference to articles and news reports does not imply endorsement or validation of the views of the authors of the stories.