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​​ What is most important for a fighter pilot? To have more information than the opponent, says Mats Thorbiornson. And that is what makes Gripen unique. 

A former aircraft technician with the Swedish Air Force, Mats Thorbiornson is now a Gripen test pilot. With experience in flying Saab’s Viggen, and around 40 to 50 different kinds of aircraft from the U.S., Russia and France, Mats has tested his mettle when it comes to flying and maintaining fighter aircraft. He was one of the Gripen pilots present at Aero India 2017. 

So how did an aircraft technician become a pilot? On being asked, Mats said that during his tenure in the Swedish Air Force as a technician, he had the opportunity to write the pilot test and he performed well in it. The rest, as they say, is history.

For a man who has been flying Gripen for so long, he says that his favourite part of the Gripen fighter is its versatility as an aircraft. Gripen’s ability to perform air-to-air, and surface-to-air missions makes it a viable multi-role fighter. With just the push of a few buttons, one can switch missions on-board the aircraft.

The ease of flying Gripen is best demonstrated when one gets to manoeuvre the aircraft. As Mats says in another interview withDeccan Herald​, “One feels very safe when doing manoeuvres in a Gripen. You feel absolutely secure when you are flying in low altitude, negotiating a bad weather or while involved in a dangerous mission because ...

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The Czech Air Force has logged more than 10,000 flight hours with Gripen. Performing NATO air policing missions and successfully participating in international exercises.

Download the calendar here.


Photo: Jörgen Nilsson

​ “It’s always been a dream to fly Gripen,” says Group Captain Suneet Krishna, who made that dream come true at Aero India 2017. Formerly a Mirage 2000 pilot and an LCA test pilot, Suneet now flies corporate jets.

Suneet talks about his Gripen flight. 


With 18 years of experience in flying Gripen, André Brännström has immense admiration for the aircraft. Speaking at Aero India 2017 at Yelahanka Air Base, Bangalore, André talked about his experience of flying Gripen in different weather conditions.

​Gripen for India is about partnerships, air power and cooperation, says Mats Palmberg, Vice President, Industrial Partnerships, Saab.

So, what’s the big difference between flying fighter jets a couple of decades back and today? When asked this question, Gripen test pilot Anders Håkansson had this to say:

“There were no computers when I began my career in the Swedish Air Force and we didn’t have the luxury of trying and testing on the simulators as we have today. I began my career by flying the Saab 37 Viggen, a mighty aircraft, before I started handling the Gripen.”

“Over the last two decades, technology has changed everything in the world of fighter planes. From taking-off to coordinating with the ground forces, technological advancements have transformed the way pilots fly today. Anders, who has trained many Gripen pilots, says that the younger generation knows computers and hence can adapt to technology in a better way. There is no need to teach them step by step. They just need to be taught how to handle the system and do the tactics since they are fast learners,” he adds.

Anders is a veteran of the Swedish Air Force for almost 30 years and was one of the Gripen test pilots who participated in Aero India 2017. He has the experience of flying Gripen for 17 years and has an acute understanding of the capabilities and specifications of the aircraft.

From A/B to C/D and E/F, Gripen has come a long way over the last few decades. According to Jonas Jakobsson, another Gripen test pilot, the fighter has undergone several design changes ...

“Are you ready, Jugal?” 

These were the four words that marked the most awaited moment of his life for India Today’s Senior Special Correspondent Jugal R Purohit who got an opportunity to fly Gripen at Aero India 2017.

Jugal flew Gripen alongside Captain Fredrik Barske of the Swedish Air Force, who briefed him about the fighter’s various capabilities: air-to-air attack, air-to-ground attack, reconnaissance, jamming enemy aircraft and networking with friendly fighters to lead a coordinated attack. 

Jugal underwent a series of medical tests including blood profile, urine profile and electrocardiogram (ECG). He also received a backseat briefing to understand the usage of things like ejection seats and get a hang of communication during the flight. Within a few minutes, they pulled up to 20,000 ft, flying at the speed of sound.​

"From looping to barrel roll to split to vertical climb up to 20,000 ft from low level, each of these manoeuvres we underwent made me realise the essence of training," he says.

At the end of the flight, Jugal became the 1,807th member of the Gripen club which consists of a few royals, mostly uniformed personnel and a handful of enthusiasts.

Read the full story here.

The Gripen design allows Saab to constantly upgrade the system and tailor solutions. Here's a quick run-through of the revolutionary inside of our fighter.

At Aero India 2017, Gripen's Full Scale Replica (FSR) is the center of attention at the Saab stall.​

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The revolutionary thinking behind the Gripen programme has once more ensured Saab’s delivery of one of the world’s most advanced fighters. Gripen E is a fighter not only fit for purpose today but ready and adaptable for events beyond tomorrow’s horizon.

Gripen, an advanced fighter system

The world renown Gripen project was initially created as a result of a synergy between university, industry and government. Known as the ‘triple helix’ this model has long been employed by Saab to ensure highly sophisticated technological advancement.

Eva Söderström, Head of Industrial Cooperation, explains, "This has existed for many years in Sweden, although at the time it was not known as the ‘Triple Helix’ – it was a model we used: academia, industry and a governmental body. We did this to develop the Gripen program and we did it because it worked."  Söderström makes a simple point that can sometimes get lost when talking of management models "It worked." The Triple Helix is certainly far from a conceptual idea at Saab but rather it is a working method.

Read the full storyhere
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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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