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The Swedish Air Force Gripen pilots are working on honing some old skills by practicing Gripen take-offs and landings from normal roads. The skill helps to spread the fighters on multiple locations in the event of an attack.

Gripen is a fighter which was developed keeping in mind the Cold War philosophy, which means it doesn't always need a runway to land and take-off. It can land and take-off on short, actual roads as well. Sweden has military bases that use normal roads that have been strengthened for practicing such exercises.  

According to Flight Attorney General, Brigadier General Gabor Nagy, such exercises are very important. "If a potential opponent attacks our regular flight bases and limits our take-off and landing opportunities, we should be ready with our strategy. So we have developed a concept to increase the areas of operations beyond the regular air bases. What has begun here today is an extension of this strategy, where we will measure road sections so that we can land fighter aircraft with relatively simple means," he says.

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​What makes Saab the best possible option to be the wingman for India's defence industry? CNBC-TV18 in its special series ‘Make in India: A New Deal for Defence’ explores Saab and Sweden’s plans in India.

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He got a flying license before a driver's license. SwAF display pilot Henrik Björling talks about his preparations for Sweden's Flying Day on 26 August.

Henrik, 36, has flown for over half of life. Among the many aircraft he has flown in the last 18 years, Gripen is his favourite. 

"It is one of the most modern aircraft in the world. It is an aircraft built for the pilot to perform at the highest level," he says.

When asked about his preparations for Sweden's flying Day performance, he says, “The exercise will happen this month. Like any other sport, I exercise daily so that I am all ready to play my role in the display. Just an hour before my flight, I stop talking and start with my mental preparation. I review the entire program visually. I check the weather – if it is sunny, windy and so on. And then I get on the plane and just do it!”

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Image Courtesy: Forsvarsmakten​


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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Adam Nelson from Air Base F17, is the adversary. He is the target that others have to intercept during the TTP (Tactics, Techniques and Procedures)exercise. Flying out of Air Force Division F 21 in Luleå, Sweden, Adam has to train air force pilots to hone their skills.

TTP is an annual Swedish air force exercise aimed to increase military capabilities and combat-readiness. This was the eighth TTP exercise and teams from Norway and Finland also participated under current Cross Border Training Agreement.

The training helps pilots improve interoperability. It also aims to increase their ability to handle live ammunition. One difference from previously completed TTP exercises was that this time, pilots flew Gripen fighters that have been upgraded to the MS20 configuration.

“It means we are learning ways to use the new capabilities of the fighter during exercises like this,” Adam says.

“During TTP, we developed techniques that will be useful in future. This exercise makes us better prepared for future exercises like Aurora,” he adds.

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​​​​Last week, Swedish Air Force conducted mobile readiness exercise on a public road in the south western part of Sweden. Guests, from both Sweden and outside the country were invited to watch the exercise.

Video Courtesy: Swedish Air Force

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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.

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Photo Courtesy: Swedish Armed Forces

Since the unveiling of Gripen E in May 2016, the programme has seen great progress. Validation and verification activities such as tests in rigs and simulators have been performed and the ground test period is in full swing. The way model based development has been implemented, has been successful. "Power on" and engine starts are just two examples of important milestones that has been accomplished during the last months.

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With Gripen E, Saab has taken all the knowledge and experience from more than 75 years of building aircraft and put it into a fighter designed to adapt to changing threats and operational requirements, such as bigger areas to defend and new threat scenarios.

Gripen E has a revolutionary avionics system which ensures that the future is built in from the beginning. The avionics system separates flight critical functions from tactical features allowing customers to update the system and so get the latest capabilities faster and at lower risk. Future upgrades, changes and functionalities can be made by adding “apps” without needing to requalify the entire system.

Read the full story here​.

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Seen by many as a series of giant leaps in innovation the story of flight is, in fact, one of fantastic evolution. More than anyone the Gripen team at Saab know this. It is evolutionary thinking that has kept the Gripen system more than one step ahead.

Most military aircraft are built with the present and future in mind. Fighters are ordinarily commissioned decades in advance of completion. These needs are usually defined by military planners. The planners draw on as much intelligence and strategic thinking as possible to make the right decisions for what are massive multi-billion dollar projects. During the cold war many nations considered the military of the highest economic priority. Matters of defence were given huge budgets. When it came to air forces there were some with seemingly bottomless pockets.

Swedish prudence and the birth of Gripen

Sweden was one country that did not believe in blank cheques when it came to its military. The Swedish Air Force was to be no exception. 

In 1980 a requirement was issued to Swedish manufacturers for a new multi-role aircraft. The bar was set high. Excellent performance, agility and speed were all necessary to combat the threats at that time. However, the high-level Swedish strategists did not only put in a request for a new fighter. They pushed for a new way of thinking. They had decided it would be costly and difficult to adapt many of the aircraft on the market. They realised that the fundamental requirements ...

Capt Peter Fällén from the Swedish Air Force performed his award winning flying display at the Farnborough International Airshow. The weeklong Airshow is being held in the UK.​

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