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Saab test pilot Marcus Wandt explains how he prepared for Gripen E's first flight.

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Last week, Thursday, June 15, Gripen E made its maiden flight. It was a fantastic moment and so did our followers think in our social channels as well. Here is a compilation of posts from our Twitter followers showing their love. Get the best of Gripen E Twitter posts here​.​

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At 10:32 am today, Gripen E took off on its maiden flight, flown by a Saab test pilot. The aircraft (designation 39-8) left from Saab’s airfield in Linköping, Sweden and flew over the eastern parts of Östergötland for 40 minutes. During the flight, the aircraft carried out a number of actions to demonstrate various test criteria including the retracting and extending of the landing gear.

“The flight was just as expected, with the aircraft performance matching the experience in our simulations. Its acceleration performance is impressive with smooth handling. Needless to say I’m very happy to have piloted this maiden flight,” says Marcus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot, Saab.

Read more here.


Amongst various other exercises, Swedish Air Force pilots also trained for air-to-air refuelling at the recently held ACE17.​

Video: Försvarsmakten​

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Saab has signed a contract with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) regarding the continued support and maintenance of Gripen C/D. The contract is valued at approximately SEK 1.9 billion and will be in effect from June 2017 to December 2019.

The contract primarily covers design and support, component maintenance, spare parts, the provision of logistics, and the procurement of certain equipment. In addition, the contract also allows for the requisition of technical system support, aircraft maintenance with associated spare parts, and the management of obsolescence.

"This contract will ensure effective Gripen C/D operation and availability for the coming years. Our support solutions contribute to Gripen's low life-cycle cost and provide the Swedish Armed Forces and other Gripen customers with the most effective means by which to sustain their aircraft," says Torsten Öhman, Acting Head of the Support and Services business area within Saab.

Read the full story here.

Photo: Sören Nielsen​​

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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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