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Some fast facts on Gripen: The Swedish fighter aircraft was originally designed for flexible deployment with a small logistical footprint. This was due to the Swedish Air Force’s policy during the cold war to operate out of a number of dispersed bases across the country. This made it vital to keep staff resources, support systems and spares to a minimum. As a result of this, Gripen was designed to operate from runways only 800x16 metres in length. This means it can land on a regular highway, which further improves its logistical flexibility. 

This capability has been carried over to Gripen NG.

There is more. High availability is vital for small air forces who rely on aircraft that offer a long Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and short Mean Time To Repair (MTTR). Gripen NG has been designed with this in mind. Gripen NG has also been designed for minimal turnaround time. For example, an air-to-air combat set up takes only 10 minutes to perform, including refueling and rearming.

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Gripen NG, whose flexible and modular design makes continuous development and enhancements, is designed for combat scenarios in the 21st Century Net Centric Warfare (NCW) environment.

The new generation aircraft can not only accumulate information from different sources, but also process it and present it in a manner that is useful for the pilot during a mission. It has highly developed net-centric warfare capabilities, including an advanced sensor suite and strong focus on data links for sharing information within a Gripen NG tactical unit or with NATO forces.

The information advantage does not end here. The pilot can also receive data from controllers on the ground or in the air. A digital CAS and video link enables further communication benefits.

Gripen’s Data Link System (TIDLS), along with a Link 16 or National Data Link provide the following capabilities:

Data link within the Tactical Air Unit

Data link between Gripen, AEW&C and C2 centers on ground or at sea

Data link with Forward Air Controller

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Six RTAF Gripen are flying for two daily missions of up to 2.5 hours over the vast Bradshaw and Delamere Ranges south of Darwin at exercise Pitch Black 2014.

The aim of the exercise is to practice Offensive Counter Air and Defensive Counter Air combat in a simulated yet complex war environment. The exercise divides the participating aircraft into a 'red team' and a 'blue team' based at separate locations, with one attacking the other.

According to a news report in IHS Jane’s​, Pitch Black’s primary focus is offensive counter air/defensive counter air missions between the attacking (Blue) forces staging from Darwin against defending (Red) force at Tindal. However, a wider range of missions have been added which include increased participation by ground elements such as attacking ground targets in conjunction with Joint Terminal Air Controllers, tactical airlift missions, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance elements.

It is RTAF Gripen’s first participation in the exercise. Prior to Pitch Black 2014, the RTAF Gripen were displayed at the LIMA defence show in Malaysia, and the BRIDEX in Brunei last year.

Image Courtesy: Department of Defence, Australia​​

Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Wing Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen briefs Jessee Dorset of ABC Channel2 about Gripen and talks about his experience at Exercise Pitch Black 2014.

“We have to fly very far and we have to stay in the air for quite a long time. Without the three fuel tanks, we cannot fly that long,” explains Commander Duangsungnaen while giving a rundown of Gripen parts to the ABC journalist.

According to a report in Flightglobal, the RTAF Gripen have been conducting primarily air-to-air missions at Pitch Black 2014, carrying simulated AMRAAM and AIM-9X AAMs for blue force offensive counter air and red force defensive counter air missions.

The six participating Gripen have operated without any tanker support at the exercise. The fighter aircraft instead use three auxiliary tanks for their two daily missions of up to 2.5 hours over the vast Bradshaw and Delamere Ranges south of Darwin.

Exercise Pitch Black 2014 ends on 22 August.

​During Farnborough International Air Show 2014, Saab, for the first time ever, unveiled a full scale replica of Gripen NG. Here are the snapshots. 

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The Saab stand with full scale replica of Gripen NG​

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General Bydén from the Swedish Air Force getting a tour of the Gripen NG cockpit at Farnborough International Airshow

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Saab pilot Richard Ljungberg showing Gripen to Brazilian delegation

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Miguel Svensson (Saab) discusses Gripen's range of weapons systems

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Gripen NG receives a lot of attention

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Taking a photo souvenir​

Get to know more about Saab's participation at the Farnborough International Air Show here.

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Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) Wing Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen used to hate fighter aircraft as a child, as they woke him up every time they landed on a landing pad. However, things changed as he grew up to realize that every boy in the neighborhood wanted to be a fighter pilot because it was cool.

In an Abc.net report that documents conversations between pilots in their hangars, Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen talks about his experience at the Exercise Pitch Black so far and what is it like to fly Gripen.

"Before we do the mission we do what we call the coordination and the brief, so we have a lot of time to talk pilot stuff," Commander Nattavut Duangsungnaen says.

RTAF has sent half of its fleet of 12 Gripen to Darwin for Pitch Black, along with 15 pilots and 75 technicians.

The RTAF Commander adds that their base in Thailand is in the southern part which is hot and humid. Darwin, on the other hand is hot and dry and dry air is good for the avionics.

Commander Duangsungnaen was flying the F-16 before Gripen and he says that the latter employs a lot of technology and hence it is a lot of fun.

"Gripen is a very maneuverable aircraft because it has a big engine with an advanced flight control system. And maintenance too. You cannot fit the F-16 in this hanger. We can fit three Gripen in the hanger," he adds.

About of 2,500 personnel from seven ...

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“It felt like I was in one of the world’s most modern fighters, perhaps the most modern. I have absolutely no doubt that Brazil has made the right choice. It is impressive how much information the pilot has at his fingertips. It feels like you are at the spearhead, fully equipped to defend your country”, says FAB pilot Major Renato Leal Leite who recently flew the Swedish fighter aircraft.

According to a news report in Globo.com, Major Leite is the first Brazilian pilot to fly the Gripen since Brazil’s announcement that Saab was chosen to provide fighter aircraft to meet the FX2 requirement. Major Leite took the test flight in June this year when a FAB delegation visited the Makhado air base in South Africa.

“Gripen comes with a range of sensors and radar and infrared equipment, which serve as the pilot’s eyes. I can easily see what is going on outside, and identify things. The old planes did not have this capability. The pilot had to make an effort to understand what was going on outside”, he says.

Major Leite was also impressed with the electronic display suite in the cockpit and the air-to-air data link which allows real-time exchange of tactical data within and between cooperating air units.

“Gripen provides clear data in real time. It tells me if there is a friendly or enemy aircraft out there. If I make a mistake, it understands my intention and corrects the error. When you are in a fighter, ...

The development of Gripen E, the most cost-efficient and modern state-of-the-art multirole fighter jet is underway. From a more powerful engine to an enhanced avionics system, there are many new features that make Gripen E a class apart. 

Saab's Chief Test Pilot Richard Ljungberg talks to IHS Jane's about various features of Gripen E, explaining how it is different from the aircraft’s earlier versions.​

​Lennart Sindahl, Head of Aeronautics Business Segment, Saab AB, tells the Gripen story at the Farnborough International Air Show 2014. 

"We are at a very good point right now. We have just introduced the version 20 of Gripen C/D. We are enhancing the air to air, the air to ground and the radar capabilities. Gripen C/D is the most capable fighter you can buy today," he says.

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Thanks to the fast paced development in the field of defense technology, missiles are becoming increasingly smart. Today’s air forces therefore need a solution that equips them with the capability to counter the latest in missile technology.

Enhanced Survivability Technology (ESTL), whose maiden flight on Gripen was carried out in June this year, offers effective missile approach warning to counter RF and IR threats of the future.

ESTL provides covert sustainable pre-emptive dispensing, missile warning, forward firing of flares and cocktail dispensing. All these capabilities have been incorporated into the form-factor of a missile utilizing the well established AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-120 AMRAAM interfaces and characteristics for lean aircraft integration.

ESTL which can handle up to eight threats at a time, brings together several components from Saab's countermeasures portfolio, including BOL and BOP dispensers, integrated defensive aids system (IDAS) system as well as the defensive aids control unit.

“ESTL offers enhanced survivability in combat and conflict situations. Traditional Countermeasures may encounter difficulties with the latest generation of AAMs and SAMs, but the ESTL concept includes a module of forward firing flares. This, together with the missile approach warning sensors and an optional chaff capability, makes ESTL a powerful shield against the latest missile developments,” says Carl-Johan Bergholm, Head of Business Unit Electronic Warfare Systems at Saab. 

Read more about ESTL here

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