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Photo taken over the Phi PHi Islands, Thailand by Weeranat Thanakitjanon,

Earlier this month, the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) officially declared its new air defence system consisting of the Gripen fighter and Saab 340 Erieye AEW operational.

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During a ceremony on July 8, 2011 the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) officially declared its new air defence system consisting of the Gripen fighter and Saab 340 Erieye AEW operational. The ceremony took place at the Wing 7 base in Surat Thani, according to a Saab release.

In 2008, an agreement was signed between FMV, Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration and the RTAF for the delivery of six Gripen C/D multi-role fighter aircraft to replace its outgoing F-5 aircraft. The order also included one Saab 340 Erieye AEW, a single Saab 340 for transport purposes and a ground based Command- and Control system. A further batch of six Gripen C fighters and another Saab 340 Erieye AEW was ordered in 2010. Deliveries of the second RTAF order will be completed in 2013.

The training of Thai personnel began in 2009. Four pilots and 20 technicians were trained by the Swedish Armed Forces (SwAF). In 2010 they were back in their home country and were ready to receive the delivery of the first batch of aircraft. The first Saab 340 Erieye AEW and the Saab 340 transport aircraft arrived in December 2010, and the first batch of six Gripen fighters was flown from Sweden to Thailand in February 2011.

Since the deliveries of the first batch of aircraft, a second batch of Thai Gripen pilots and technicians has graduated from their training in Sweden.

Ten technicians have been trained in Sweden for a year and graduated in June 2011. The ...

​The Gripen NG Demo was on static display at the Paris air show. The Demo returned to flight trials on May 19. According to a report in Aviation International, the latest configuration has a new open-architecture avionics suite which allows the segregation of functions that are critical and non-critical to flight safety. Using an ethernet-based architecture, new elements that are mission-critical, rather than flight-critical, can be inserted and tested without having to revalidate the system as a whole.

According to the report, another change in the two-seater is in the rear cockpit, which now sports two large Rockwell Collins displays. The Gripen Demo can now be operated with decoupled cockpits, so that the pilot in the rear can call up different displays and perform tasks different from the pilot in the front cockpit, which retains the original displays for the time being. This functionality is an increasingly important capability for two-seaters in operational scenarios.

The demo in its Phase 3 includes the AESA radar, redesigned main undercarriage for greater internal fuel, and a more powerful GE F414 engine. The aircraft Gripen Demo is approaching its 200th fligh.

Source:Paris 2011: Saab’s Gripen Demo Shows Off Upgrades and Modifications​​

The Gripen Demonstrator for the future Gripen NG returned to the skies in mid-May 19 with new avionics and displays. On May 19 the Gripen NG demonstrator aircraft flew with new avionics for the first time. At this stage of flight testing, after almost 200 flights, an open system architecture avionics system that separate flight critical from mission critical functionality is integrated in the aircraft. Also integrated are new Tactical Mission Computers, Ethernet networks and new Rockwell Collins displays.

 “What we’re doing now with the avionics is a much bigger step than achieving supercruise with the Demo,” Peter Nilsson, Saab’s head of air domain, told Flight Global. According to the report, following the completion of avionics testing later this year, the NG will be equipped with Selex Galileo’s ES-05 Raven AESA radar.”The next aircraft will be coming in October 2013, and is being built from scratch as an NG,” says Nilsson. This will bring a new look for the Gripen, with a longer fuselage, increased wingspan and new engine inlets.

The Gripen has also completed 160,000 flight hours during its mission over Libya. Since April 2 eight Gripen fighters, based at the Sigonella air base in Sicily, are flying daily reconnaissance and air supremacy missions. So far more than 300 recce missions have produced over 80 000 photos.

Hakan Buskhe, Saab’s CEO, has maintained at the Paris Air Show that it has not given up its efforts to sell the Gripen fighter jet to India, despite not being invited to extend its commercial offer.

“We are monitoring the situation, and we have not packed up our things and left,” Hakan Buskhe told journalists at the Paris Air Show today. “We have an extremely good aircraft and we have not given up.”

Saab also says that it is quite comfortable with the situation in Brazil where a decision has been postponed.

Buskhe said his company stands to benefit from government cuts to defense spending because they force armies to review the equipment and contracts they have, opening an avenue for companies such as Saab to establish new orders.

“It may sound strange, but the defense cuts are beneficial to us,” Buskhe said at the press briefing. “When money is not an issue, you don’t change habits.”

The Gripen Czech Offset Program annual performance report for the year ending December 31, 2010 has reported that a cumulative value of 23.74 billion CZK (About US $1.37 billion) has been delivered to the Czech Republic.

The report, which has been approved by the Czech Ministry of Defence, documents the annual fulfilment of the Program of Industrial Cooperation accompanying the lease of 14 Gripen fighter aircraft to the Czech Republic by the Swedish Government.

2010 highlights:

- Cumulative value of 23.74 billion CZK delivered as of December 2010

- 93% of total offset obligation to the Czech Republic delivered

- 2010 offset transactions valued at 3.82 billion CZK

- 48 registered Gripen offset transactions as of December 2010

- On target to deliver total offset obligation of 25.545 billion CZK

“As at December 31, 2010 the total percentage of fulfilment amounts to 93% of the obligation. The Program is in compliance with the approved and signed terms of the Offset Agreement,” says Rudolf Blazek, Deputy Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic.

Czech Gripen Offset ProgramGripen International is contractually committed to generate Offset and Industrial Cooperation to a value equal to 130% of the Gripen fighter lease contract value, which represents 25.545 billion CZK.

The Offset Agreement requires a minimum direct Offset equalling 20% of the total Offset Agreement value (direct Offset refers to transactions in the defence, aerospace and security sectors). The Offset Program runs from June 14, 2004 to December 31, 2014.

Source:  Gripen Offset Program ...

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The Indian MMRCA program is not a closed chapter for Saab which intends to “wait and see” how the developments progress.  A report by Craig Hoyle inFlight Global quotes Saab CEO Hakan Buskhe attributing New Delhi’s “rather surprising decision” to concerns over the developmental status of  the Gripen NG. According to Buskhe, saying, “We were not selected – at least not yet.”  He said “what we can do is give them our explanation if we feel they have misjudged something”.

The report quotes Buskhe saying: “We have a list of things that they have some questions about, and we have been looking at those.” With extended bids from the remaining contenders valid only until late December, Saab has decided to maintain a presence in support of the campaign in India. “We will wait and see,” said Buskhe.

If the concern of the IAF was on the ‘development status’ of the NG, it seems to be well on its way to flying a  prototype with the new avionics system in a few weeks time and a new-build Gripen NG in 2012.

Bill Sweetman writing inAviation Week, says “Stealth, meanwhile, appears to be the hallmark of Gripen development, in that it is moving forward under a shroud of non-publicity. Sweden has taken the strategic decision to retain a small but capable air force, which will be based on Gripen until at least 2040. The only currently planned route to that goal is through the JAS 39E/F Gripen NG.

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“Just announced our continued contribution to NATO Libya ops. Five Gripen for reconnaissance support to all activities. Unique capabilities.” That’s what Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt tweeted to report the continuance of Gripen’s duty over Libya.

Sweden will remain part of the NATO-led operation in Libya and contribute jet fighters to ongoing reconnaissance operations. Foreign Minister Carl Bildt after securing support from two the opposition parties said, ‘It is necessary to maintain military pressure to speed up political change.’

Sweden, which is not a member of NATO, has since April contributed eight JAS Gripen jet fighters to help patrol a no-fly zone approved by the United Nations Security Council. The Swedish mission, which excludes using the aircraft to attack targets on the ground, was set to expire June 22. According to the new agreement, three jet fighters are to be withdrawn, while five remain. The planes could also provide information about refugee flows or ship movements, Urban Ahlin of the Social Democrats said. Asa Romson of the Greens said there was a need to continue to protect civilians in Libya and fund humanitarian agencies.



Photographs: Sgt Johan Lundahl/Combat Camera and FL 01/Försvarsmakten

Photo courtesy:Swedish Armed Forces Website​

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