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Starting today, the Air Forces of Sweden, Finland and Norway will host the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2017, reports ilmavoimat.fi​.

ACE is a part of a Cross Border Training (CBT) initiative which was started in 2009 by Finland, Norway and Sweden. ACE will have a participation of more than a 100 aircraft, including transport and liaison aircraft, aerial refuelling tankers, and airborne warning and control system aircraft.

Besides the three nations, countries like Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, and the Netherlands will also participate.

Read the full story here.

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Developing a fighter for less than 2 billion Euros is made possible by a number of factors and strategic decisions taken at the programme’s beginning. Finding less expensive ways to develop advanced products, which Saab describes as “breaking the cost curve’, is one, reports Defence Aerospace​.

Strategies like buying a new engine (GE F414G) or ES-05 Raven AESA radar, and not developing these systems from a scratch – which can be an expensive process  - have played an important role as well. But integrating these systems into Gripen E without spending a lot on integration cost was not easy.

According to Jerker Ahlqvist, Head of the Gripen programme, this was solved by adopting new ways of working, including model-based systems engineering (MBSE), model-based development (MBD), and agility. This is to say that the company’s simplified management structure was prepared to react quickly and adapt to change.

The report also mentioned two other factors that helped minimize cost. Saab allows engineers to take decisions without the interference of upper management or committees, which results into a faster development process.

The second factor, which in different guises is on the lips of every executive, is the sense that the company has a duty not only to develop the combat systems needed by the Swedish military, but to develop them at a price the country can afford, the report says.

Read the full story here.

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Training Gripen pilots to develop tactics, techniques and procedures is important to enhance the military capabilities of the user country. Exercises like TTP play an important role in this.

This year, the exercise began with the onset of spring in Sweden. The participating Gripen fighters were upgraded with the MS20 configuration this time. Exercise TTP has been a little different every year in terms of number of days, location, number of participants and even the theme. For example, during last year’s exercise, the focus was on international composite units, with participants practicing offensive operations together. This year, the focus has shifted to national units and defensive operations.

According to a report in Forsvarsmakten​, the planning of the exercise is almost like scripting a movie. At first, TU-JAS (Tactical Development JAS) and the exercise management work on the idea. Thereafter, all the elements like managing participation units, basing, and transportation are planned. Each participating unit also has its own goals which are also considered. After all the planning, the exercise management creates a thread of realistic scenarios.

TTP is beneficial for all participants and the learnings help improve the capabilities of the Swedish Air Force, the report adds.

Read the full story here.

Image Courtesy: Forsvarsmakten

Throwback to ACE 2015

Fighter pilots from Sweden, Finland and Norway are preparing hard for the upcoming Arctic Challenge Exercise (ACE 2017) which would be held between May 22nd and June 2nd.

ACE is held once in every two years. This time, around 3500 personnel and almost 100 aircraft, including tankers, will be a part of the exercise. ACE seeks to enhance interoperability among the participating nations. Various tactics and procedures will be practiced in realistic threat scenarios.

The exercise will be conducted from three air bases: Norrbotten Wing in Luleå, Sweden, Bodø airbase (Bodo hovedflystasjon) in Norway and Lapland Air Command (Lapin lennosto) in Rovaniemi, Finland.

Besides Gripen, participating aircraft include the F-18, F-16s, Tornado, and the Mirage 2000. Exercise scenarios will focus on international peacekeeping operations under a UN mandate.​

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​.

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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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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​

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​.​

The upgrade known in Swedish term as MS20 involves a whole series of improvements and new functionality, both in terms of the aircraft itself and the ancillary support and training systems.​ Saab knows that its customers need a reliable, affordable and available fighter, against all threats, today and tomorrow. And that is why it makes Gripen. 

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Canadian company Héroux-Devtek has been awarded a contract to deliver landing gear systems for Gripen E fighters, reports UPI.

“Héroux-Devtek is proud to further enhance its long-standing relationship with Saab. Our U.K. operations have designed and manufactured landing gear systems for previous variants of the Gripen aircraft and this new contract acknowledges their expertise on an important program," said Martin Brassard, Vice-President and CEO of Héroux-Devtek.

Héroux-Devtek will manufacture, assemble and deliver complete landing gear systems for the 96 Gripen E fighters being developed for the Swedish and the Brazilian Air Force.

There has been a great interest in Gripen ever since Brazil announced its decision to acquire 36 Swedish fighters. The aircraft is being considered by several other countries and this contract also has an option for Saab to award the manufacturing of additional complete landing gear systems to Héroux-Devtek.

The deliveries of the landing gear systems are expected to begin next year.

Read the full story here.

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