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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 ...

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 with Deccan 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 ...

“Are you ready, Jugal?” 

These were the four words that marked the most awaited moment of his life for India Today’s Senior Special Correspondent Jugal R Purohit who got an opportunity to fly Gripen at Aero India 2017.

Jugal flew Gripen alongside Captain Fredrik Barske of the Swedish Air Force, who briefed him about the fighter’s various capabilities: air-to-air attack, air-to-ground attack, reconnaissance, jamming enemy aircraft and networking with friendly fighters to lead a coordinated attack. 

Jugal underwent a series of medical tests including blood profile, urine profile and electrocardiogram (ECG). He also received a backseat briefing to understand the usage of things like ejection seats and get a hang of communication during the flight. Within a few minutes, they pulled up to 20,000 ft, flying at the speed of sound.​

"From looping to barrel roll to split to vertical climb up to 20,000 ft from low level, each of these manoeuvres we underwent made me realise the essence of training," he says.

At the end of the flight, Jugal became the 1,807th member of the Gripen club which consists of a few royals, mostly uniformed personnel and a handful of enthusiasts.

Read the full story here.

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

angad_gripen.jpg

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.

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Welcome to the official Gripen blog by Saab. This site features information and commentary about the Gripen fighter jet.
 
The Gripen Blog shares stories and discussions on the Gripen aircraft. The Blog does not vouch for the authenticity of the reports from other publications that have been quoted.
 
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