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​The eleventh edition of Aero India has kickstarted at Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bengaluru, today. Saab is exhibiting its world-leading capabilities in air power, aircraft, ground-based air defence and surveillance systems, as well as naval technology at the event. Here are a few snapshots from day one.

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Defence Minister of India Manohar Parrikar visits the Saab stall​

16603087_1497432060269291_5816459101857243384_n.jpgJan Salestrand, State Secretary, Ministry of Defence, along with Håkan Buskhe, President and CEO, Saab, inaugurate the Saab stand

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Saab test pilot Jonas talks about the world's smartest and the most modern fighter jet - Gripen

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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​

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

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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 new Indonesian Air Force Chief of Staff, Air Marshal TNI Hadi Tjahjanto, has given a go ahead for the replacement of the country’s existing fighters, reports Netral News​.

He said that transparency will be prioritized in the purchase of weapons and military equipment to ensure safety in operation. "The initial step is to have a transparent purchasing program for weapons and other military equipment. I believe that this can ensure safety and help to avoid accidents," Tjahjanto said. 

The Indonesian air fleet currently uses F-5E/F Tiger II jet fighter which would be upgraded by 2024, in lieu of them being obsolete. They were acquired in 1990’s and will be replaced when they are grounded for at least a year.

The current replacement options for the replacement of the F-5E/F Tiger II, include Gripen (Sweden), Sukhoi Su-35 (Russia), F-16 Block 60 Viper (US), and Eurofighter Typhoon (Airbus-Europe). Right from the beginning, Saab has offered an open and transparent detailed transfer of technology and acquisition scheme to Indonesia.   

Saab's offer to Indonesia includes Erieye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) for maritime surveillance and control, tactical data link for sharing data across platforms and ground based command and control.

Read the full story here.

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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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Czech Republic’s Ministry of Defense recently announced that it is in the process of procuring Gripen fighter terminals that will allow them to ensure classified data communication. 

Petr Medek, Defense Ministry spokesman, stated that using these terminals in the avionics of the existing Gripen aircrafts will help increase the operational capabilities in the area of classified communication. The technology is also needed for the aircraft to be full-fledged participants in Joint Alliance operations.

Czech Republic will be acquiring 15 terminals, of which 14 will be incorporated into the existing 14 aircraft and 1 will be a spare. 

The Czech army currently has a total of 14 Gripen aircraft on lease. The terminals purchased, however, will be completely owned and operated by the Czech army. 

Read the full storyhere​.

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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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