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​Srinjoy Chowdhury, Senior Editor at Times Now​, who flew Gripen at Aero India 2017, says it was an experience of a lifetime.

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Vayu’s Angad Singh strapped into a Saab Gripen at Aero India 2017, for a ‘hands on’ experience of a lifetime!

“Arm seat,” says a voice in my ear. This is the point of no return, as I head to Yelahanka’s 3-kilometre runway in the rear seat of a Saab Gripen D. I depress the catch that secures the ejection seat arming mechanism and push the switch from the ‘safe’ position to ‘armed.’ This simple action, more than anything in the past ninety-odd minutes, drives home the reality of what is about to happen.

“Seat armed,” I reply, trying my darndest to sound like a fighter pilot. I am not certain I succeeded. 

Waves of heat radiate off the asphalt runway, baked by the midday sun. Holding short to the north side of the runway as we line up are two Tejas LCA trainers, readying to depart after us. Behind us and lined up to the right of the centreline is another two-seat Gripen D. We wait for what seems like an eternity, made worse by the nerves that seem to amplify the discomfort of my g-suit. In reality it was probably only a few seconds from line up to ATC clearance for take-off. My pilot, Saab’s Wing Commander Flying, Hans Einerth, doesn’t waste time or words – he releases the brakes as soon as ATC gives him the word. 

This is not so bad, I think to myself. My anxiety begins to subside as we gather speed in much ...

Jonas Jakobsson, Experimental Test pilot at Saab takes you through a Gripen simulator and explains how it demonstrates the capabilities of the Swedish fighter.

​Gripen was one of the biggest attraction of Aero India 2017. The aerial displays at the airshow left visitors wanting more.

​​ What is most important for a fighter pilot? To have more information than the opponent, says Mats Thorbiornson. And that is what makes Gripen unique. 

A former aircraft technician with the Swedish Air Force, Mats Thorbiornson is now a Gripen test pilot. With experience in flying Saab’s Viggen, and around 40 to 50 different kinds of aircraft from the U.S., Russia and France, Mats has tested his mettle when it comes to flying and maintaining fighter aircraft. He was one of the Gripen pilots present at Aero India 2017. 

So how did an aircraft technician become a pilot? On being asked, Mats said that during his tenure in the Swedish Air Force as a technician, he had the opportunity to write the pilot test and he performed well in it. The rest, as they say, is history.

For a man who has been flying Gripen for so long, he says that his favourite part of the Gripen fighter is its versatility as an aircraft. Gripen’s ability to perform air-to-air, and surface-to-air missions makes it a viable multi-role fighter. With just the push of a few buttons, one can switch missions on-board the aircraft.

The ease of flying Gripen is best demonstrated when one gets to manoeuvre the aircraft. As Mats says in another interview withDeccan Herald​, “One feels very safe when doing manoeuvres in a Gripen. You feel absolutely secure when you are flying in low altitude, negotiating a bad weather or while involved in a dangerous mission because ...

​ “It’s always been a dream to fly Gripen,” says Group Captain Suneet Krishna, who made that dream come true at Aero India 2017. Formerly a Mirage 2000 pilot and an LCA test pilot, Suneet now flies corporate jets.

Suneet talks about his Gripen flight. 


With 18 years of experience in flying Gripen, André Brännström has immense admiration for the aircraft. Speaking at Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka Air Base, Bangalore, André talked about his experience of flying Gripen in different weather conditions.

​Gripen for India is about partnerships, air power and cooperation, says Mats Palmberg, Vice President, Industrial Partnerships, Saab.

So, what’s the big difference between flying fighter jets a couple of decades back and today? When asked this question, Gripen test pilot Anders Håkansson had this to say:

“There were no computers when I began my career in the Swedish Air Force and we didn’t have the luxury of trying and testing on the simulators as we have today. I began my career by flying the Saab 37 Viggen, a mighty aircraft, before I started handling the Gripen.”

“Over the last two decades, technology has changed everything in the world of fighter planes. From taking-off to coordinating with the ground forces, technological advancements have transformed the way pilots fly today. Anders, who has trained many Gripen pilots, says that the younger generation knows computers and hence can adapt to technology in a better way. There is no need to teach them step by step. They just need to be taught how to handle the system and do the tactics since they are fast learners,” he adds.

Anders is a veteran of the Swedish Air Force for almost 30 years and was one of the Gripen test pilots who participated in Aero India 2017. He has the experience of flying Gripen for 17 years and has an acute understanding of the capabilities and specifications of the aircraft.

From A/B to C/D and E/F, Gripen has come a long way over the last few decades. According to Jonas Jakobsson, another Gripen test pilot, the fighter has undergone several design changes ...

At Aero India 2017, Gripen's Full Scale Replica (FSR) is the center of attention at the Saab stall.​

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