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The Smart Fighter

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FL 01 Commander Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Wilson has on theSwedish Air Force blogpublished another photo showing the airport in Misrata. FL 01 has so far delivered about 70,000 photos to Nato, says Wilson. He points out that the photograph shows operational Libyan aircraft.

According to Wilson, FL 01 activities that deal with the no-fly zone (NFZ) over Libya has been continuing with unchanged momentum. The daily missions of the NATO attempt to determine whether, and if so how, either the Libyan regime or the rebels can fly, fly or have flown.According to Wilson, “At one of these missions we flew over Misrata airfield. This controlled for some time by the rebels but they have as little right as the Libyan regime to fly with their resources. In the photo above you can see the aircraft at the time was at the base.”

Says Wilson in the blog, “For those readers who appreciate the comparison of images FL 01 in comparison to that delivered by other actors, I recommend that you look closely at the planes that are presented on the plate to the left. These have over time fluctuated both in numerical force, type and operational status.

Anearlier write up​on the blog noted that the airspace over Libya was closed and it was the NATO-led coalition’s goal to ensure that it remains so. The only aircraft allowed by the coalition were those that deliver relief supplies to civilians in Libya.

The first flight of the JAS ...

From first flight on April 7 through Thursday, May 12,FL-01 has completed 104 missionsin the Libyan operation. About 65 000 pictures have been taken.

Every day there are flights from the NATO-led coalition in the air to protect civilians in Libya, to monitor the arms embargo enforced and to ensure that there is no breach of the no-fly zone, says the Swedish Armed Forces.  FL 01 carries out reconnaissance missions and photographs objects or activity that can threaten the no-fly zone, ranging from anti-aircraft positions at air bases to missile trailers.

According to a pilot, flying is risky, specially as there are threats from the ground. Coalition aircraft have been “lit up” from time to time. “Illumination” of the aircraft by air defense system means that there is someone with a system, such as a radar, trying to find the aircraft in the air. The aircraft’s warning system “lights up” warning of a potential radar lock which, if successful, may lead to the firing of a missiles against the aircraft. That in itself is a threat to a no-fly zone. therefore it is important to find and photograph these threats.

The FL 01 has now flown over a hundred missions and all ten pilots in the unit have flown ten missions.

​The South African Air Force has received three new Gripen C fighter aircraft, with one aircraft to join the fleet next year.The single seat aircraft, with serial numbers 3917, 3918 and 3919, were towed to Air Force Base Ysterplaat and will be made ready for flight at the air force base prior to departing for Makhado.

With all dual-seat Gripen D aircraft already delivered, these three aircraft will join the Gripen Cs that were delivered in early 2010.​


Eight Gripen fighter aircraft from the Swedish Armed Forces are currently taking part in the NATO led UN mission in Libya.

The formal decision to participate in the UN mission was taken by the Swedish Parliament in the beginning of April 2011.

In total, the Swedish Armed Forces will deploy up to 130 people for this mission, including ten Gripen pilots, for a period of up to three months. The Gripen fighters are now based at Sigonella, Sicily, Italy.This Swedish Gripen force is designated FL 01 and is basically the Expeditionary Air Wing, which was formed as a part of the EU´s Nordic Battle Group. In addition to the eight Gripen C/D aircraft, FL 01 also consists of a C-130 Hercules, says a Saab release.

The Gripen force was rapidly deployed from the Swedish Air Force F 17 Wing at Ronneby, Sweden, and all were in place at Sigonella within just two days following the Parliament’s decision.

According to Saab, the Swedish Air Force is well prepared for the mission, having taken part in numerous international exercises over a period of many years, notably the Red Flag exercises in USA since 2006. In these exercises, Gripen has shown that it is a multi-role fighter, with full capability to operate in air-to-air, air-to-ground and reconnaissance roles.

The mandate from the Swedish Parliament for this mission does not include air-to-ground operations, so the Swedish AF Gripen will operate in the air defence and reconnaissance roles over Libya, enforcing the No-Fly Zone.

Defence and security company Saab has received an order worth SEK 200 million from FMV (the Swedish Defence Material Administration) for system maintenance of Gripen, according to a Saab release.

The contract represents a part of continual system maintenance and updating tasks for the Gripen C/D and complies with the Swedish Armed Forces’ long-term planning for the Gripen. The order applies to basic resources, for example renewal of test equipment for testing and verification of the Gripen system on the long term. The order concerns operations to be carried out during 2011.​

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The Gripen aircraft have now flown a total of over 150 000 flight hours without a single Gripen aircraft suffering an engine-related failure or serious incident during these 150,000 hours, says a Volvo Aero Press Release. This is unique among the world’s Air Forces.

According to the company, Saab’s test team has kept a close eye on every flight hour that the Gripen has made since its maiden flight. Similar monitoring has been carried out by the Swedish Air Force and Gripen customers in Hungary, the Czech Republic, pilot training in Great Britain and in South Africa.

“I believe that this will be a difficult record to beat in a single-engine application,” says Rune Hyrefeldt, Manager of Military Program Management at Volvo Aero.The Gripen is powered by the RM12 engine which is based on the General Electric F404 and adapted by Volvo Aero and GE engineers in the 1980s to meet the Gripen’s requirements.

Read the Press Release:Gripen passes 150 000 flight hours-Volvo Aero’s engine is the world’s safest

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Defence and security company Saab has received an order from FMV (the Swedish Defence Material Administration) regarding the Gripen system for the continuous upkeep of its operative capability. The order is worth MSEK 120, according to a Saab release.

The order includes technical support, product maintenance, flight test and simulators to ensure the operative capability of the Gripen system. The work will be done during the second quarter of 2011, mainly at Saab facilities in Linköping, Arboga, Gothenburg and Järfälla.

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