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The fight against rhinoceros poaching in South Africa is all set to get a fresh impetus. South African Air Force Gripen fighters will be deployed to track poachers in the country, particularly along the Zimbabwe border. 

The primary surveillance tool for SAAF Gripen will be the Litening III targeting pod designed by Israeli defence company Rafael. The unit has a sensor turret fitted with day- and night-vision cameras, as well as a combination laser range finder and target designator. The pods significantly increase the combat effectiveness of the aircraft during day, night and under-the-weather conditions in the attack of ground and air targets. It can be mounted externally on an aircraft, and provides good quality target imagery for further analysis. 

SAAF Gripen, which use the domestically produced data link, Link ZA, can connect with command centres on ground to share information, and even with groups of wildlife rangers. 

Lieutenant Colonel Josias Mashaba, Head of the SAAF’s 2 Squadron, said that it is important to take preventive action before the rhinos go extinct. "They are smart, those guys, they are not stupid, but we find them," says Mashaba about poachers. In 2015 and 2016, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed by poachers and illegal hunters in the country.

Read more here.

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Ahead of the recent Paris Air Show, members of the Gripen User Group met up in Paris on 20 June to add Brazil as the newest member of the group.

The Gripen User Group is made up of representatives of countries that operate the Gripen fighter. Before Brazil, the last induction in the group was that of Thailand in 2010. The Gripen Users Group holds a bi-annual conference to share the participants’ experiences of flying the fighter. The Group shares information, and the discussions revolve around Gripen’s operational, maintenance, logistics, engineering and safety matters.

The User Group also conducts ‘Lion Effort’ - a tactical exercise aimed to improve interoperability between the Gripen operating countries. Hungary will host Lion Effort in 2018. 

Read the full story here​.

​Catch Gripen in action as it performed a stunning aerial display at the annual SAAF Museum air show at AFB Zwartkop last month. The airshow was held on 06 May. More than 30,000 visitors attended the event.

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The South African Air Force (SAAF) held a demonstration on 1st June to assess its combat readiness. At the event, SAAF showcased its air power capability through use of  its most modern acquisitions such as Gripen and Hawk aircraft.

During the demonstration, simulation of various combat scenarios with live ammunition was carried out. The demonstration also included joint exercises with air and ground units, and aerial displays by BK-117 Helicopters, A109, Oryx and Gripen fighter jets.

Besides aerial displays, Gripen fighters and Hawks also flew bomb damage assessment and engaged in a mock dogfight. In total, six Gripen fighters participated.

Read the full story here​.

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South African Air Force Gripen fighters have been confirmed to participate in the annual SAAF Museum air show at AFB Zwartkop next month.

The annual air show, which will be held at Air Force Base Swartkop, is expected to be attended by more than 35,000 visitors. Besides Gripen, Oryx and A109 helicopters, Casa 212 transport, and BAE Hawk combat aircraft are also scheduled to participate in both static and aerial displays during the air show.

Gripen's performances include flyovers and demonstration of air strikes with Hawk jets and Rooivalk attack helicopters.

SAAF Museum Air Show will be held on 6th May 2017.

Read the full story here.

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The SAAF's Lieutenant Colonel Musa Mbhokota, who has clocked over 2000 flying hours on eight different aircraft types, including Gripen, is all set to become Officer Commanding AFB Overberg.

Mbhokota was one of first six SAAF pilots who went to Sweden to understand the Gripen fighter system when South Africa placed the Gripen C/D order in the nineties. He was also the first black pilot to assume command of 2 Squadron, which operates the SAAF’s Gripen fighters. He first flew Gripen in the year 2002 in Sweden.

Mbhokota will assume his first base command later this month.

Read the full story here​.

​While on a visit to South Africa, Defence Minister of Sweden, Peter Hultqvist met his South African counterpart Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula at Pretoria, reports SABC News.

South Africa is Gripen's first export customer. It was also the first nation to order HMD (Helmet Mounted Display) for its Gripen fleet (17 Gripen Cs and nine Gripen Ds).

"I am sure you are aware of the fact that we have procured one of the strategic defence packages from Sweden. Our fighter aircrafts are from there and we are proud to say that South Africa is the only country in the African continent which has such capability," Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Hultqvist emphasized that selling or leasing aircraft to other countries is more than business. "This is one of Swedish national security interest: when we sell or lease aircrafts to other countries, it's something more than a business - it’s about security and a long term relationship," he said.

Read the full story here.

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Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD 2016), one of the world's premier aerospace and defence exhibitions, kickstarts today. The exhibition will be held at AFB Waterkloof, Centurion, in the city of Tshwane, South Africa. Gripen will be on show, both in the air display and static park.

“With South Africa's acquisition of Gripen fighters, a very strong and long relationship was forged between Saab, Sweden and South Africa. And it’s a two-way relationship. Today, we see Gripen flying all over the world - South Africa, South America, Europe and Asia - with systems and technologies developed in South Africa. Saab's presence at AAD underlines this commitment to a long term relationship and technology transfer,” says Hans Rosen, Head of Saab Country Unit, Africa, EMEA.  

The first AAD was held in the year 1975. It was known as the Aerospace Africa civilian exhibition at that time. From a local aero-display and trade show held at a small airport to a full-fledged international airshow with participation of more than 20 countries, AAD has grown a lot in the last 42 years. 

AAD 2016 will be held between 14 and 18 September 2016. 14-16 September will be business days while the exhibition will be open for public on 17 and 18 September.

Know more about Saab’s participation in the exhibition here.

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South African Air Force Gripen pilots participated in a camp recently to test their air-to-air gunning skills, reports Defence Web​.

An annual training event for SAAF, the camp was held at the Overberg Air Force Base. Six South African Air Force Gripen and five Hawks flew for almost 140 hours during this event. The participating pilots focused on firing, navigation, battle formations and general flying skills. The area between Arniston and Infanta was used as the firing range.

According to Major Unathi Makoba, the approach controller for the camp, such air-to-air camps should be held twice a year.

“This would not only boost the morale and confidence of pilots, air traffic controllers, mission controllers and technicians but would also require them to work to ensure the necessary flying hours were available for any mission,” he says.

Read the full story here​.

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Congratulations Jörgen Nilsson, the winner of #Gripenevolution contest. Nilsson, a Sweden based aviation photographer, will get a ticket to the Gripen Evolution event in Linköping on 18 May. 

The event will also be live streamed on www.gripen.com/evolution on May 18.

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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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