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4. Kitted and all set for the flight!.jpg

By Shashank H R

On a cold January morning, I lined up my Gripen on Runway 09 at Yelahanka, slammed the throttle forward to full afterburner power and took it off the ground. After pulling off a few aerobatic manoeuvres in the clear blue sky, I returned for landing. But, hold it right there! All of this was done only in a PC-based flight simulator for the purpose of entering the unprecedented ‘Gripen Top Gun’ contest which was held by the connoisseur of defence and aerospace products, Saab, prior to Aero-India 2011. 

The grand prize for the winner was going to be a flight in one of the world’s most technologically advanced, multi-role combat aircraft, the Gripen. Having been an aircraft enthusiast for years, I had learnt about the outstanding capabilities of the Gripen, witnessed its performance at one of the previous air shows, and considered a flight in the aircraft truly an honour. This is exactly why I wanted to win!

Almost a month later, on a busy, routine day, there came a moment of big surprise; my heart literally skipped a beat after the contest organizers themselves called me for a quick telephonic interview. And on the day that followed, I was informed that I have been selected as one of the five finalists out of the 2500 participants. At this point of time, I was really on cloud nine!!

On 12th of February, the four other potent finalists: Kasmera Shah, Shaival Sheth, Selween Mascarenhas and Chiranth ...

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Not many Air Force pilots have assisted in leading an Air Force of more than fifty aircraft in attack. However, this has been done twice during the Red Flag this year, reports forsvarsmakten.

According to one of the pilots, the planning for such a mission begins about 36 hours before the aircraft takes off with an Air Tasking Order (ATO) issued.

The ATO describes the task assigned to each unit, number of aircraft that will fly along with their strategies. There is also a section describing generally what applies to the mission, acceptable risk and higher managerial objectives. In this case, it is about breaking through enemy air defenses to eliminate the enemy's ability to conduct terrorist operations and ability for chemical warfare.

After all the preparations and briefs and a final inspection of the aircraft, a group of commanders and four Gripens (loaded with missiles and GBU-49) are all set for the mission.

"War starts when the escort begins to sweep the area and I note with satisfaction that it is quite good to have stealth aircraft on our side. The escort followed by SEAD aircraft start to disrupt and destroy the enemy air defense positions. In the end it is our turn and we follow in their tracks on the way towards the target area", says blogger writing under the name Captain "Tank".  

Read the full story:  Swedish pilot leads mission on great exercise​

Image Courtesy:  forsvarsmakten​

Eddy de la Motte, Head of Gripen Export, comments on the F-16 replacement process in the Netherlands

2013 will be an exciting year for the Dutch Air Force and for Dutch politics. The reason: there is a decision to be taken on the new fighter to replace the outdated F-16s, says a report in  Een Vandaag​.

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Starting from 2015, Hungarian Gripens will be stationed at the military airport in Lithuania in one of four shifts per month till 2018, says a news report in the Hungarian daily hirado.

According to Defence Minister Csaba Hende, Hungary is pleased and proud to participate in the protection of the Baltic airspace task. He also said that he planned to take part in the ongoing French-led operation and the subsequent start-up of EU training mission too.

Read the full story:  Hungarian soldiers involved in peace-building

Image:  Saab

462px-André_Blattmann.jpgSwiss Army Chief André Blattmann strongly recommends Gripen for the Swiss army, reports Basler Zeitung.

“The Gripen is the best possible option for the army. All alternatives were “sham variants”, he said in Emmen recently where he was present as a part of the armament program 2012 of the fighter jet of choice. 

André Blattmann stressed that Gripen complies with the military requirements. It has all the key components needed. In addition, Gripen has clearly the best cost-benefit ratio.

The report says that the technical, financial and time risks which exist because of the input costs of over 3 billion Swiss francs have been addressed. Jürg Weber, Project Director Gripen by armasuisse, classified these as a small to medium ones. And they were all quite acceptable.

Read the full story:  The Gripen has An Edge

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H.E. Mr. Somchai Charanasomboon, Ambassador of Thailand to Sweden, along with Gp.Cpt.Chanon Mungthanya, Defense and Air Force Attaché, and Thai officials from the Royal Thai Embassy came to Linköping recently to pay a visit to the Gripen factory.

According to Thailand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website, the top management team at Saab welcomed the ambassador and briefed him about the evolution of Gripen so far. The ambassador and his delegation then visited the production area where they were explained about the high technology that goes into assembling a Gripen aircraft.

Read the full story:  Ambassador visits Gripen fighter aircrafts factory in Linköping

Photo Courtesy:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdome of Thailand

​Writing about Gripen’s participation at the Red Flag, Keith Rogers of Las Vegas Review Journal ponders why Sweden, an air force from a country with a tradition of neutrality and the home of the Nobel Peace Prize that isn't even a member of the NATO alliance want to train for war. 

It's simple, says Lt. Col. Anders "Handy" Segerby, detachment commander for the 2nd Squadron, 17th Air Base in Blekinge, Sweden. "For us, Red Flag is more in line with if we need to defend Sweden, in case we meet the real enemy."

Lt Col Segerby also says that there is an "interoperable" capability that Sweden's fighter pilots need to have to interact with "protectorate partners" in the international community.

"When I fly in my fighter, I speak English. I use pounds in describing my fuel. I use the American-NATO equivalent way when I want to tell where a target is. And before I have too little fuel, I will use the same expression as an American, or British or French pilot. "So we are interoperable," he said. 

Read the full story:  Wheels up for Red Flag

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Czech JAS-39 Gripen left Šiauliai air base in Latvia on 4 January 2013. This was the end of the Task Force Baltic Air Policing. Airmen from Čáslav have served there since September 2012. Colonel Petr Lanči has given the symbolic key of the Baltic skies to his Danish counterpart on January 3 during a ceremony which closed the Czech mission officially. Representatives of Czech embassy in Latvia, Czech MoD, Latvian AF, MoD of Latvia and Estonia as well as embassies of Denmark, USA and local municipalities took part. 

Czech Deputy Ambassador Oto Weniger talked not only about the high professional level of the Task Force, but also about their role in spreading a good name for the Czech Republic. Commander of Latvian AF general Mažeikis expressed sincere thanks to the contingent and stated that he hopes to see Czech airmen in Latvia soon again. 

Then he welcomed the Danish pilots who came to Latvia for the fourth time. Consequently, he decorated Czech airmen with special NATO medals for foreign Baltic Air Policing mission. Czech pilots did 15 QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) take-offs, so called A-Scrambles within the total of 326 flight hours during 298 flights.

Read the full story: The Czech airmen ended activities in the Baltics​

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Six JAS-39C Gripen aircraft had been selected for the Baltic Air Policing in the beginning of 2012. The main preparation involved a special protective paint due to difference in runway maintenance at Šiauliai air base during winter as compared to Čáslav. As many parts of the Gripen had to be dissembled prior to application of the special anti-corrosion paint (including the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) and the jet engine RM-12) the time required for Technical Service (TS) after 200 flight hours increases significantly.

According to Captain Jan Ďucha, the exchange of the Aircraft Gear Box presented another challenge for the technical staff, as it had to take place during regular operation of the squadron which included the demanding AAR training, exercise in Swedish Vidsel as well as other air shows and exercises.

JAS-39C/D Gripen maintenance is being provided directly by the staff of the 211th tactical squadron of tactical air force which is unusual compared to other CzAF operated aircraft, whose maintenance is handled by specialised technical support units. The 211th squadron takes care of the aircraft until it reaches 800 flight hours; then it is flown to Saab. Efforts focused on preparation for the Baltic mission peaked on August 30, 2012, when the aircraft flew from Čáslav to Šiauliai. The task force were by then fully ready to start fulfilling demanding tasks of its air policing mission on September 1.

Captain Ďucha says that technical staff worked in three teams which enabled the aircraft to be prepared for takeoff ...

​Thailand always celebrates Children´s Day on the second Saturday in January, it fell on the 12th this time. The Royal Thai Air Force is one of the largest Children´s Day organizers with its main event at RTAF HQ at Wing 6 in Bangkok. Air bases all over the Kingdom have their own celebrations as well. 

This year RTAF sent one Gripen fighter from Wing 7 in Surat Thani to perform aerobatics in the skies over Wing 6. One of RTAF´s two SAAB 340 AEW aircraft was parked at the static exhibition of new and old aircraft from RTAF´s inventory. Large crowds of kids and parents attended the sunny Don Muang event. Besides flying machines, they enjoyed entertainment, games and a generous offering of food, drinks, ice cream and sweets provided by vendors and co-organisers. 

From Wing 6

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RTAF´s fighter aircraft is always the main attraction during Children´s Day and kids have to  squeeze in between adults to get a glimpse of the action, here watching an old F-5 fighter being prepared for take off.

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A different angle of a SAAB 340 AEW.

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Spectators behind the wing of a SAAB 340 AEW.

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RTAF Gripen takes a break between its aerobatic shows at Wing 6.

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Reading up lucky draw winners...

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From Gripen´s booth.

From Wing 7

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RTAF Gripen´s home base Wing 7 also arranged a great Children´s Day. Of course with Gripen and SAAB 340 AEW among the aircraft shown. Here Group Captain Jakkrit Thammavichai poses with some kids in front of a Gripen ...

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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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