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Six RTAF Gripen are flying for two daily missions of up to 2.5 hours over the vast Bradshaw and Delamere Ranges south of Darwin at exercise Pitch Black 2014.

The aim of the exercise is to practice Offensive Counter Air and Defensive Counter Air combat in a simulated yet complex war environment. The exercise divides the participating aircraft into a 'red team' and a 'blue team' based at separate locations, with one attacking the other.

According to a news report in IHS Jane’s​, Pitch Black’s primary focus is offensive counter air/defensive counter air missions between the attacking (Blue) forces staging from Darwin against defending (Red) force at Tindal. However, a wider range of missions have been added which include increased participation by ground elements such as attacking ground targets in conjunction with Joint Terminal Air Controllers, tactical airlift missions, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elements.

It is RTAF Gripen’s first participation in the exercise. Prior to Pitch Black 2014, the RTAF Gripen were displayed at the LIMA defence show in Malaysia, and the BRIDEX in Brunei last year.

Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Wing Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen briefs Jessee Dorset of ABC Channel2 about Gripen and talks about his experience at Exercise Pitch Black 2014.

“We have to fly very far and we have to stay in the air for quite a long time. Without the three fuel tanks, we cannot fly that long,” explains Commander Duangsungnaen while giving a rundown of Gripen parts to the ABC journalist.

According to a report in Flightglobal, the RTAF Gripen have been conducting primarily air-to-air missions at Pitch Black 2014, carrying simulated AMRAAM and AIM-9X AAMs for blue force offensive counter air and red force defensive counter air missions.

The six participating Gripen have operated without any tanker support at the exercise. The fighter aircraft instead use three auxiliary tanks for their two daily missions of up to 2.5 hours over the vast Bradshaw and Delamere Ranges south of Darwin.

Exercise Pitch Black 2014 ends on 22 August.

​During Farnborough International Air Show 2014, Saab, for the first time ever, unveiled a full scale replica of Gripen NG. Here are the snapshots. 

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The Saab stand with full scale replica of Gripen NG​

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General Bydén from the Swedish Air Force getting a tour of the Gripen NG cockpit at Farnborough International Airshow

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Saab pilot Richard Ljungberg showing Gripen to Brazilian delegation

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Miguel Svensson (Saab) discusses Gripen's range of weapons systems

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Gripen NG receives a lot of attention

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Taking a photo souvenir​

Get to know more about Saab's participation at the Farnborough International Air Show here.

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Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Wing Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen used to hate fighter aircraft as a child, as they woke him up every time they landed on a landing pad. However, things changed as he grew up to realize that every boy in the neighborhood wanted to be a fighter pilot because it was cool.

In an Abc.net report that documents conversations between pilots in their hangars, Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen talks about his experience at the Exercise Pitch Black so far and what is it like to fly Gripen.

"Before we do the mission we do what we call the coordination and the brief, so we have a lot of time to talk pilot stuff," Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen says.

RTAF has sent half of its fleet of 12 Gripen to Darwin for Pitch Black, along with 15 pilots and 75 technicians.

The RTAF Commander adds that their base in Thailand is in the southern part which is hot and humid. Darwin, on the other hand is hot and dry and dry air is good for the avionics.

Commander Duangsungnaen was flying the F-16 before Gripen and he says that the latter employs a lot of technology and hence it is a lot of fun.

"Gripen is a very maneuverable aircraft because it has a big engine with an advanced flight control system. And maintenance too. You cannot fit the F-16 in this hanger. We can fit three Gripen in the hanger," he adds.

About of 2,500 personnel from seven ...

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“It felt like I was in one of the world’s most modern fighters, perhaps the most modern. I have absolutely no doubt that Brazil has made the right choice. It is impressive how much information the pilot has at his fingertips. It feels like you are at the spearhead, fully equipped to defend your country”, says FAB pilot Major Renato Leal Leite who recently flew the Swedish fighter aircraft.

According to a news report in Globo.com, Major Leite is the first Brazilian pilot to fly the Gripen since Brazil’s announcement that Saab was chosen to provide fighter aircraft to meet the FX2 requirement. Major Leite took the test flight in June this year when a FAB delegation visited the Makhado air base in South Africa.

“Gripen comes with a range of sensors and radar and infrared equipment, which serve as the pilot’s eyes. I can easily see what is going on outside, and identify things. The old planes did not have this capability. The pilot had to make an effort to understand what was going on outside”, he says.

Major Leite was also impressed with the electronic display suite in the cockpit and the air-to-air data link which allows real-time exchange of tactical data within and between cooperating air units.

“Gripen provides clear data in real time. It tells me if there is a friendly or enemy aircraft out there. If I make a mistake, it understands my intention and corrects the error. When you are in a fighter, ...

The development of Gripen E, the most cost-efficient and modern state-of-the-art multirole fighter jet is underway. From a more powerful engine to an enhanced avionics system, there are many new features that make Gripen E a class apart. 

Saab's Chief Test Pilot Richard Ljungberg talks to IHS Jane's about various features of Gripen E, explaining how it is different from the aircraft’s earlier versions.​

​Lennart Sindahl, Head of Aeronautics Business Segment, Saab AB, tells the Gripen story at the Farnborough International Air Show 2014. 

"We are at a very good point right now. We have just introduced the version 20 of Gripen C/D. We are enhancing the air to air, the air to ground and the radar capabilities. Gripen C/D is the most capable fighter you can buy today," he says.

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Thanks to the fast paced development in the field of defense technology, missiles are becoming increasingly smart. Today’s air forces therefore need a solution that equips them with the capability to counter the latest in missile technology.

Enhanced Survivability Technology (ESTL), whose maiden flight on Gripen was carried out in June this year, offers effective missile approach warning to counter RF and IR threats of the future.

ESTL provides covert sustainable pre-emptive dispensing, missile warning, forward firing of flares and cocktail dispensing. All these capabilities have been incorporated into the form-factor of a missile utilizing the well established AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM interfaces and characteristics for lean aircraft integration.

ESTL which can handle up to eight threats at a time, brings together several components from Saab's countermeasures portfolio, including BOL and BOP dispensers, integrated defensive aids system (IDAS) system as well as the defensive aids control unit.

“ESTL offers enhanced survivability in combat and conflict situations. Traditional Countermeasures may encounter difficulties with the latest generation of AAMs and SAMs, but the ESTL concept includes a module of forward firing flares. This, together with the missile approach warning sensors and an optional chaff capability, makes ESTL a powerful shield against the latest missile developments,” says Carl-Johan Bergholm, Head of Business Unit Electronic Warfare Systems at Saab. 

Read more about ESTL here

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Gallium Nitride (GaN), probably the most important semiconductor material since silicon, will be used by Saab on the Gripen E aircraft, reports Defense News.

Gallium Nitride has long been seen as a powerful alternative to gallium arsenide which is currently popular for making modules for AESA radars.

The cost of Gallium Nitride has been a deterrent in its use in ground radars. However, with the demonstration of successful prototyping of Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) and Gallium Nitride (GaN) technologies by US firms like Raytheon, things are changing.

“The substance will be used in jammers and passive warning systems, boosting efficiency by 25 percent,” said Ulf Nilsson, the head of the Gripen program.

In addition to enabling future 360 sensor coverage, GaN technologies will also increase the defended area and decrease the time to detect, discriminate and engage threats.

According to Lennart Sindahl, Saab’s deputy CEO, Saab is now ahead of the curve on GaN.

“Our worst competitor said ‘you are now six years ahead of us,’” Sindahl said.

Read the full story: Gallium Nitride Gets Fighter Debut With Saab​

Swedish Air Force Gripen presented a terrific show for the visitors at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) 2014, held at RAF Fairford last month.

RIAT is acknowledged as the world's largest military airshow. This year, 240 aircraft from 31 air arms representing 25 countries participated in the event.

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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. 

The reference to articles and news reports does not imply endorsement or validation of the views of the authors of the stories.


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