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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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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.

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​.


​​​​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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Gripen E's first test flight will be conducted during the second quarter of this year," says Jerker Ahlqvist head of Gripen programme.

During the annual Gripen seminar yesterday, Jerker explained that Saab’s new work methods with model-based-design is proving to be very successful. 

“As we prepare for Gripen E’s first test flight, we see that any software corrections can be easily implemented now. We can quickly make a change and introduce a new software load to the aircraft within days. This is something that previously took weeks or even months to undergo. It gives us the confidence that we are on the right track and the programme will run as per the schedule,” he said.

Saab is building two more test aircraft which are at various stages of production. Aircraft 39-8 is currently in ground test. The second test aircraft has entered the stage of final assembly.

About Gripen M, Jerker said that it is at a conceptual stage. “We are working with Brazilian engineers on a concept study of Gripen M. We are also in the process of responding to an RFI from India. We believe that Gripen M has good potential and can hopefully turn into a full development programme at a later stage.”

Jerker presented the Gripen seminar along with Richard Smith, Head of Marketing, Gripen, who gave an overview of the position of Gripen in the market today.

"The market looks optimistic for Gripen right now, and it comes down to getting ink on paper," Richard ...

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Lovisa Sandelin from Ludvika, Central Sweden, is the first woman to graduate as a SwAF fighter pilot since 2004. She has graduated from the aviation school in Linköping, Southern Sweden, along with 22 other students and they have a few more years of training to undergo until, eventually, they have the skills to fly the Gripen fighter. 

Sandelin isn’t focused on the attention she has received due to her gender. “I see it more as something personal. Getting my pilot’s wings is a big milestone for me just as my male colleagues see it is a big milestone in their lives, so I maybe don’t focus so much on the fact that I’m a woman,” she says. She also pointed out that it is imperative for more women to apply and join the Swedish Armed and Air Forces.

Until the early 1990s, women were not qualified to become fighter pilots. This has changed over the years with many countries lifting this ban one after another. Typically perceived as a male-oriented job, the profession has seen very few women applying.

“Public perception of the profession being a typically male one could be an explanation for why so few women opt to become fighter pilots in Sweden,” says Swedish Air Force’s Air Combat School Mats Juhlander.

"But it isn’t. The Armed Forces opened as an occupation for both sexes in 1989,” he adds.

Read the full story here.

Image Courtesy: Forsvarsmakten​

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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.

Read the full story here.

Photo Courtesy: Swedish Armed Forces

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