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The Smart Fighter

Quick Launch


Today in the Riksdagen (Swedish Parliament), cross party politicians voted overwhelmingly in favour of Gripen next generation fighter aircraft.  

“It is an historic day for the Gripen, with unequivocal home political support securing the next generation fighter, Gripen is now even better placed on the export market.” states Eddy de la Motte, Head of Gripen Export at Saab.  

In the end, 264 members of parliament voted in favour with 19 against the procurement of between 40-60 Gripen fighters.

“We see an immense interest for Gripen more than ever before from countries around the world due to its unrivalled price/performance capability.  At the same time defence budgets are ever more squeezed due to the current economic climate.” states Eddy de la Motte.

The total cost including maintenance and operation is estimated to SEK 90 billion up until 2042. 

Read the full story:Report 2012/13: FöU1 Expenditure 6 Defence and contingency measures - financial year 2013​​

Photo courtesy: Per Kustvik

Air Intl Gripen.jpg

Air Internationaltakes the journey through time to mark the completion of the Gripen fleet for the South African Air Force in its December 2012 issue. Guy Martin writes an overview of the South African Air Force JAS 39 Gripen, the most advanced western fighter aircraft operating in the African continent, and the success of the acquisition programme across its different dimensions.

In November 1998, South Africa announced the procurement of 28 Gripens and 24 BAE Systems Hawk MK 120 lead in fighter trainers and became the first export customer for Gripen. The final four Gripens were delivered in August this year after modifying them according to the latest standards.

SAAF Gripen pilots flew their first solo in October 2008. In October 2010, SAAF’s first four pilots successfully completed their first operational conversion course. SAAF Gripens also participated in the security operation of 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup. With around 2214 SAAF personnel deployed for the security at the event and Gripens flying 259 hours, 2010 World Cup was SAAF’s largest defence operation.

“We have learnt so much in terms of its capabilities, which we never would have learnt if it was not for the World Cup. It accelerated both the deployment of our aircraft and the learning process together with its aircrews ability to utilize the weapon system of the Gripen optimally,” Air International quotes Lt Gen Gagiano of South African Air Force as saying.

South Africa was the first Gripen nation to have the BAE systems/Saab/ Carl Zeiss Optronics Cobra Helmet Mounted Display (HMD). The helmet displays both air-to-air ...

Pilots Meeting.jpg
Gripen pilots from various countries attended a two day event recently in Linköping, Sweden to discuss their experiences from the daily use of Gripen, says a blogpost in the Swedish Air ForceForsvarsmakten​.

The seminar started with a story told by by Stig Holmström on how the journey of Gripen started in Linköping and about how Gripen’s first flight happened. This was followed by the pilots telling their experiences with Gripen.

Pilots from Czech Republic and Hungary talked about the experiences of being involved with NATO preparedness along with their normal flight training operations. South African pilots shared their stories about flying in the African heat and how Gripen is being used for various purposes there i.e. from air defence to supporting the chase of poachers in the South African National Parks. 

The seminar concluded with a briefing on the latest development work on Gripen E and the experiences of the Swedish Divisions around ongoing and planned activities.

Read the full story:Gripen seminar in Linköping


Red Flag 13-2 is going to be held between 21 January and 1 February, 2013. Gripens, along with the U.S. aircraft, Netherlands' F-16s and Singapore's F-16s will participate in the event. 

Red Flag is a realistic combat training exercise which takes place in the north of Las Vegas on the Nevada Test and Training Range. This area, with more than 12,000 square miles of airspace and 2.9 million acres of land, is ideal for military training.

According to Nellis Air Force’swebsite, around 90 aircraft are scheduled to depart Nellis twice every day. There will be 1900 targets, realistic threat systems and enough battle like scenarios for participants to hone their combat skills.

Read the full story: RedFlag 13-2 to be held 21 Jan - 1 Feb

Photo:A Gripen fighter at the Red Flag exercise in Nevada 2008. Photographer: Sara Burlage/Försvarsmakten

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The Swedish Parliament has announced in apress releasethat the Defence Committee has given its nod for the purchase of 40-60 new Gripen fighters.

The Committee also wants an annual accounting on Gripen NG. A majority of the members of parliament have declared that the parliament should be presented with information on a yearly basis so that it is able to follow up on its decision on Gripen upgrade.

According toCorren, the parliament still has to meet on 6 December for a formal decision on the acquisition of the fighter planes, however it is clear that there is an adequate majority in favour of the Gripens. 

Read the press release:Yes to new JAS, but no to the killing of Swedec

Read the Corren report:The committee says yes to Gripen

Photo Courtesy:Saab​

With Gripens expected to remain in frontline use until 2040, Stockholm has, within the past year, made a fresh commitment to further boost the single-engine type's capabilities, giving its backing to a more capable E-model development, under a bilateral agreement with Switzerland, reports Flightglobal​.

The report talks about Sweden’s smart defence plans and says that the country has a complete air force. Gripens provide quick reaction alert cover, while a fleet of three Erieye radar-equipped Saab 340s provides airborne early warning and control services.

Head of Sweden’s air force requirements Lt Col Rickard Nyström says that Gripen E is all poised to counter potential threat scenarios for the 2025 timeframe with its advanced capabilities, which include longer range or more time on station, super cruise performance, increased weapons-carrying potential, and enhanced radar and electronic warfare systems.

"We really think that we need this [Gripen] configuration to build up the [defensive] umbrella over Sweden," Nyström noted, at the International Fighter conference in London last month.

Read the full story:Sweden acts smart to deliver 'complete airforce'​ 

At a low price and a low operating cost, Gripen is now more affordable than its foreign competitors, says a news report in Malmö-basedSydsvenskan

According to the report, 30 years ago, the then-Chief Bengt Gustafsson said that Gripen would gradually, become cheaper than its competitors in the years after 2010 and now it turns out that he was right after all.

The report quoted a comparison report from the well-respected defence analysts IHS Jane’s, which notes Gripen is more economical compared to its five major competitors. ​

According to the Swedish Defense Line, the "Life Cycle Cost" of an upgraded Gripen is clearly lower than the most affordable foreign alternatives. The purchase price of a Gripen is 27 percent lower and the operating costs are 15 percent lower until 2042 than its counterparts.

Gripen is a great value for money and this has created interests among countries like Netherlands and Denmark which have previously been less than enthusiastic about Gripen.

“We are ready to quote Denmark an unbeatable offer for Gripen. It is a plan that fits the Danish Air Force, and that would benefit Denmark in enhanced development cooperation with Sweden and Switzerland,” says Sebastian Carlsson at Saab.

Read the full story:Sydsvenskan​
Photo Courtesy: Saab Flickr​


Training foreign pilots is every day work at F 7 Wing for the past couple of years and no one is surprised by the  multinational flavour any longer. In September, four Czech and two Hungarian pilots learnt to fly the Gripen at the first division, Gustav Röd, at the Wing.  Over a period of eleven weeks, they learnt the basics of flying Gripen. Initially, it is a lot of theory lessons and flying simulators, but soon the real flying begin.

“Flying a Gripen isn’t easy,” says the report inForsvarsmakten. Even for pilots with years of experience, flying a Gripen takes time and training. Every new aircraft in fact, comes with its own set of theories to be learnt by the pilots.

After that, the pilots go through Conversion Training (CT) where they learn to fly the double seater Gripen D and then single seater Gripen C. CT, however, does not include tactical training. Tactical training which means Combat Readiness Training (CRT), comes after CT. Tactical training teaches pilots to manage the aircraft radar and weapon systems, amongst other things. The pilots continue with the CRT in their respective home countries.

Photo: Victor Veres

​FMV (the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration) has been commissioned to work with the Air Force Research Laboratory in the United States to develop a bio-based fuel for the Gripen, says Sweden’s Defence Minister Karin Enstrom, in a report inNyTeknik.

According to Enstrom, climate change is the greatest environmental challenge and the Swedish Alliance Government has set an ambitious energy and climate policy that aims to increase energy efficiency up to 20 percent by 2020.

Enstrom also suggests that technology cooperation with other nations for the development of the biofuels needs to be encouraged. Sharing the cost with others would eventually help reduce the cost of maintenance and further development of the Gripen system.

“I see the partnership that now begins for biofuel for the Gripen as a concrete example of how we can work to make the system more climate smart and contribute to the development of tomorrow's environmental technology,” she concludes.

Read the full story:Gripen Will Be Climate Smart​


Swedes have an opportunity as they hope the updated version of their Gripen will prove attractive for countries that want a light, advanced fighter jet with low operating costs, says Defence News, in its editorial “Quality vs. Affordability”.

The current defence market seeks as much capability as possible on a budget. The United States, Britain and France have also realized that they would no longer be the leading arms exporters if they do not deliver quality products at affordable prices.

The editorial presents examples like the Hunter, Mirage or F-16 fighters, Leopard tanks, German submarines and Kalashnikov rifles, all of which achieved immense popularity because they did the job at the right price.

Read the full story:Editorial: Quality vs. Affordability

Photo Courtesy:Saab Flickr

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