Gripen News

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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zero-one

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Unread post19 Mar 2019, 14:35

https://hushkit.net/2019/03/18/intervie ... pen-pilot/

Interview with a Gripen pilot

Tiny, smart and capable, the Swedish Gripen C is a bantamweight fighter aircraft with a big punch. The Gripen E now in development is a bigger aircraft, close in weight to the F-16. We spoke to SAAB test pilot Jonas Jakobsson about flying a machine that emphasises brains over brawn.

Gripen is a fascinating aircraft, lambasted by the Swiss air force evaluation and loved by its pilots and operators, it does things in a different way. Connectivity, situational awareness and other boring sounding concepts are prioritised over power and speed, resulting in a machine that is cheap to operate and capable of delivering nasty surprises to opponents that underestimate it. Though only around 250 Gripens have been built since production begun in 1987 it has earned Saab an excellent reputation as one of the few aircraft manufacturers that stay close to running timely projects on budget (a key reason for Boeing choosing to partner with Saab for its winning T-X trainer). But is its good reputation just another example of Sweden’s slickness in public relations? Over to Jonas Jakobsson.

Jonas Jakobsson (middle) with former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
What is your name, rank, unit and hours on Gripen C?
“My name is Jonas Jakobsson and I’m a Major (ret.) and currently an experimental test pilot working at SAAB. I’ve flown well over 1000h in Gripen.”
Which other aircraft types have you flown?
“During air force training I flew Beagle Bulldog (SK61) and SAAB 105 (SK60). My first aircraft as an operational pilot was the strike fighter version of Viggen (AJ-37) which later was upgraded to AJS-37 indicating that it also had recce capability. I’ve also flown Lansen, Draken, and all the other versions of Viggen. During my career as a testpilot I have also flown a number of helicopters, fighters and trainers.”
What were you first impressions of the Gripen?
“That it was a true pilot’s aircraft. I really felt that handling the aircraft out to the very edge of the allowed envelope was made really easy by the flight control system. The way information was fused and presented was also very intuitive. This has been a hallmark of SAAB aircraft for a long time. I think much due to the fact that Swedish fighters traditionally are single seat. A good Human Machine Interface compensated for the second pilot…”

How would you rate the Gripen in the following categories:
A. Instantaneous Turn rates
B. Sustained turn rates
C. Acceleration
D. Climb rate
E. Range
“Without mentioning specific numbers since this would be classified I would like to expand the question a bit. We have built Gripen to achieve the highest possible operational effect in a number of scenarios defined by our customers. To do this we have to balance a number of factors such as platform performance, sensor performance, weapon performance, avionics, Human Machine Interface etc. The classic metaphor stating that a chain isn’t stronger than its weakest link is relevant for fighters as well! So the answer would be; platform performance is as good as or better than what is needed to reach the high overall operational effect demand of a future fighter.”
(Though Jonas avoids answering this question directly I would like to quote from this article “Gripen is a bit of an unknown quantity against modern air superiority machines because it takes a fundamentally different approach to survivability. Whilst in traditional DACT exercises, Typhoon pilots have often referred to the Gripen as ‘cannon-fodder’ due to its inferior thrust-to-weight ratio, speed, agility and armament, in the few cases where the Gripen has ‘come to play’ with its full electronic warfare capabilities, it has given Typhoons very nasty shocks. Against the Su-35S, Gripen would rely on the cutting edge EW capabilities which Saab builds the Gripen (especially the new E/F) around to hide the aircraft from the sensors of the Russian jets in much the same way as the Raptor relies on x-band stealth. These EW capabilities are so highly classified that there is simply no way to assess their effectiveness in the public domain. Having said that, RAF pilots who I have talked to with experience of the Saab fighter’s EW teeth first hand say that the ability of the aircraft to get alarmingly close without detection thanks entirely to EW is very impressive.” The answer that modern air combat has greater emphasis on fighting at a distance is not just an avoidant answer, but if the Gripen was a very energetic aircraft Saab would be keen to share this, as Eurofighter is with the Typhoon. It is however understood that Gripen has a particularly good instantaneous turn rate. )
What are the best and worst aspects of the Gripen?
“I personally thoroughly enjoy the incredibly well designed HMI which makes it possible for me as a pilot to process enormous amounts of information and really interpret the tactical relevance of this information. The worst aspect of Gripen to me personally is that we are building such a fantastic and futuristic system but it is all on the inside so to speak. This makes it all a bit abstract and difficult to explain the full potential of the aircraft.”
How would a Gripen do in the following against a Block 52 F-16?
A. WVR combat
B. BVR combat
C. Situational awareness
E. maintainability- cost of ownership?
“Generally we stay away from direct comparisons but if I were to compare Gripen to other fighters in general I would say that I have already touched on one of the subjects you ask about. Situational awareness in Gripen E is outstanding! All the way from the sensor suite (radar, IRST, missile approach warner, radar warner etc), the local fusion of sensor data in every Gripen, the global fusion of data shared within the tactical air unit (and C2) and via the HMI with the elaborate symbology and wide area display. This information chain and the situational awareness it creates is rally the foundation that all fighting rests on. With this said it comes as no surprise that I think that Gripen helps me as a pilot to perform really well in both BVR and WVR.

The Swedish defense traditionally relied heavily on conscript personnel for tasks such as aircraft line maintenance. The operational doctrine of the Swedish air force also included operating from dispersed bases, basically a runway in the forest with no workshops or hangars. These two facts have been part of our design-genome for many years now. The result is that Gripen is very easy to maintain and also very fast to turn around between sorties. Generally we say that time for turnaround between two air-to-air sorties is done in 10 minutes and that is including both refueling and rearming! Ease of maintenance i.e. few hours to fix a potential problem and long mean time between failure add up to a high availability and low cost of ownership.”
Just how good is the Meteor-armed Gripen at BVR combat? Has it a big enough radar to take full advantage?
“Absolutely! The radar is well balanced with the weapon reach. But the radar is far from the only source of information we use to get target data…”
(By this I understand he is referring to the other sensors and information data-linked to the aircraft from off-board sources.)
What is your most memorable mission?
“A number of sorties comes to mind, my first display with the SwAF display team, my very first solo sortie at the air force academy, QRA sorties during the cold war when the Baltic was buzzing with activity or when I got to bring my children up in a jet trainer. But if I had to pick one sortie I think it would be something very different. About 10 years ago I was assigned to 2 Squadron in the South African Air force. My mission was to train the first South African group of pilots on Gripen. After a successful training and 18 months in the country I was about to move back to Sweden. One final sortie remained. It was a night flight and the weather was fantastic with stars everywhere. I spent that hour and a half cruising among the stars and contemplating what a fantastic job I have. When heading back to home base the mission controller greeted me with a cheerful “welcome back to earth sir”. I think the combination of a beautiful scenario and the end of a great mission all added up and made it a very emotional sortie.”
What is the biggest myth about Gripen?

“Actually haven’t heard so much negative. Maybe people are too polite to tell me. But I think one might be that a lot of people have the conception that Gripen E only is a slight upgrade to Gripen C because of their similarities in appearance. Nothing could more wrong! It is a totally new aircraft, albeit based on the same general aerodynamic design as Gripen C.”
One Typhoon pilot described Gripen as ‘easy meat’, how would Gripen perform in BFM against the following types? Typhoon, Rafale, Hornet, MiG-29 and F-22.
“Again no direct comparison but as I said above, the one with the best information wins the fight. It’s been a fact since world war one and still is. The only difference is how the information is gathered. In the old days looking with your eyes, today and in the future sensors and fusion of sensor data. The classic BFM I would say is no more and if you try it you die. In a world of high of boresight missiles, such as IRIS-T, data-link cueing and helmet mounted displays the within visual range fight looks more and more like a mini-BVR fight.”

Never let it be said that Europeans don’t love a delta. Typhoons, Gripens and a lone Mirage 2000.
What should I have asked you?
“What’s the best thing about being a Gripen test pilot?
The possibility to influence the future design and functionality of Gripen. I think all fighter pilots can relate to this. During training and operational use of the aircraft every pilot formulates his/her ideas of how to improve the design and functionality and now I really get to this. It’s also a huge responsibility. It’s important that I can meet fellow pilots in the air force and feel that we met their demands and built the most pilot friendly and operationally efficient aircraft possible.”

The first Saab Gripen E for Brazil is in final assembly. Saab hopes to deliver the first test aircraft to Brazil this year, with operational aircraft following from 2021. Brazil should receive 36 Gripen E/Fs between 2019 and 2024. Image source: Saab
What equipment would you like to see integrated into Gripen?
“Weirdly enough I will answer more computer power and unlimited broad band data-links. I think this is the key to success in a future scenario. The things you can do with computational power and data sharing is astounding and we are a good way down that path with Gripen E but you always want more. Luckily some clever engineer foresaw this and designed the avionics to be basically plug and play with both new software and hardware!”

Thoughts on Gripen
Politics is the biggest decider in arms deals, so what are the political advantages of going Swedish? One may be that for some nations it is a less inflammatory move than purchasing from the US and Russia. But is the Gripen independent from the US? In the past the US has beat down potential rivals to its commercial dominance by refusing export licences (something it may have done in the 1990s with AMRAAM during the search for the next Finnish fighter). Though Gripen E will have European missiles (Meteor & IRIS-T) and radar — it has a US-licensed engine and will probably use US guided munitions (Paveway and JDAM) as well as a US or Israeli targeting pod. Also despite Saab’s streamline, unbloated, approach to manufacturing – can spare parts for an aircraft produced in tiny numbers in an expensive country be cheap?
Gripen E is likely to be far cheaper to operate than the F-35 and is likely to be the only aircraft offering comparable levels of situational awareness in the near term. This is a big plus, and this is combined with the already operational long range air-to-air Meteor missile. If Saab can keep the Gripen E price down, and a suitable political climate prevails, it should find more customers, even in a massively over-saturated market
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zero-one

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Unread post19 Mar 2019, 15:08

Interestingly, he downplays the importance or relevance of Kinematics in a hypothetical modern scenario. Or at least he never answered the question directly and instead pointed to the Gripen's other strengths.

How would you rate the Gripen in the following categories:
A. Instantaneous Turn rates
B. Sustained turn rates
C. Acceleration
D. Climb rate
E. Range

“Without mentioning specific numbers since this would be classified I would like to expand the question a bit. We have built Gripen to achieve the highest possible operational effect in a number of scenarios defined by our customers. To do this we have to balance a number of factors such as platform performance, sensor performance, weapon performance, avionics, Human Machine Interface etc. The classic metaphor stating that a chain isn’t stronger than its weakest link is relevant for fighters as well! So the answer would be; platform performance is as good as or better than what is needed to reach the high overall operational effect demand of a future fighter.”


(Though Jonas avoids answering this question directly I would like to quote from this article “Gripen is a bit of an unknown quantity against modern air superiority machines because it takes a fundamentally different approach to survivability. Whilst in traditional DACT exercises, Typhoon pilots have often referred to the Gripen as ‘cannon-fodder’ due to its inferior thrust-to-weight ratio, speed, agility and armament, in the few cases where the Gripen has ‘come to play’ with its full electronic warfare capabilities, it has given Typhoons very nasty shocks. Against the Su-35S, Gripen would rely on the cutting edge EW capabilities which Saab builds the Gripen (especially the new E/F) around to hide the aircraft from the sensors of the Russian jets in much the same way as the Raptor relies on x-band stealth. These EW capabilities are so highly classified that there is simply no way to assess their effectiveness in the public domain. Having said that, RAF pilots who I have talked to with experience of the Saab fighter’s EW teeth first hand say that the ability of the aircraft to get alarmingly close without detection thanks entirely to EW is very impressive.” The answer that modern air combat has greater emphasis on fighting at a distance is not just an avoidant answer, but if the Gripen was a very energetic aircraft Saab would be keen to share this, as Eurofighter is with the Typhoon. It is however understood that Gripen has a particularly good instantaneous turn rate. )


When you hear Raptor pilots talk about it they always rave on how the combination of Speed, Stealth, Situtational awareness and supermaneuverability makes them nearly invulneable and extremely leathal.

Typhoon pilots say they are the only ones who can "hang with Raptors, high and fast"

F-16 pilots, Ow its the ultimate rate machine

I think the fact that pilots are trained to play by their aircraft's strenths and minimize their weaknesses causes them to believe in their core what they say.

So a Raptor pilot will be trained to take advantage of that enourmous envelope while a Gripen pilot will be taught to always stay away from the fight at all cost.


Thus, pilots of kinematically inferior planes will always tell you how that is not important, or that the have chosen a "balanced" approach to survivability. Just like how they downplayed the relevance of Stealth.
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Unread post19 Mar 2019, 22:20

In brief :
When seeing other aircraft the Griphen pilot's checklist looks like :
- Drop stores (if any)
- Nose over to ZERO G (or call Boeing for 737 MCAS system, seems to work properly in doing so)
- Max AB
- Yell over Internal network : "Get the hell out ah here";.
- Search for Bible
- Start praying when fuel gage drops to zero when still at 100nm

Well, must admit ; GREAT Fighter spirits those Griphen pilots. LOL.
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Unread post20 Mar 2019, 08:19

zero-one wrote:https://hushkit.net/2019/03/18/interview-with-a-gripen-pilot/

(Though Jonas avoids answering this question directly I would like to quote from this article “Gripen is a bit of an unknown quantity against modern air superiority machines because it takes a fundamentally different approach to survivability. Whilst in traditional DACT exercises, Typhoon pilots have often referred to the Gripen as ‘cannon-fodder’ due to its inferior thrust-to-weight ratio, speed, agility and armament, in the few cases where the Gripen has ‘come to play’ with its full electronic warfare capabilities, it has given Typhoons very nasty shocks. Against the Su-35S, Gripen would rely on the cutting edge EW capabilities which Saab builds the Gripen (especially the new E/F) around to hide the aircraft from the sensors of the Russian jets in much the same way as the Raptor relies on x-band stealth. These EW capabilities are so highly classified that there is simply no way to assess their effectiveness in the public domain. Having said that, RAF pilots who I have talked to with experience of the Saab fighter’s EW teeth first hand say that the ability of the aircraft to get alarmingly close without detection thanks entirely to EW is very impressive.” The answer that modern air combat has greater emphasis on fighting at a distance is not just an avoidant answer, but if the Gripen was a very energetic aircraft Saab would be keen to share this, as Eurofighter is with the Typhoon. It is however understood that Gripen has a particularly good instantaneous turn rate. )


This is pretty much confirmed with that leaked Swiss evaluation paper. Gripen was praised for good EW suite and Typhoon was said to need improvments in EW, detection and identification domains. So it's both Gripen having good EW and Typhoon having weaknesses in detection performance. Gripen weak points were endurance and performances and aircraft weapons load. All of these were clearly inferior to Rafale, Typhoon and Swiss F/A-18C. Typhoon got 9 in performance criteria and Gripen about 5.5. So there is very large difference in aircraft flight performances between the two. So Gripen would need to ambush or surprise Typhoon or it would be in serious trouble due to much lower performance and endurance.
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Unread post20 Mar 2019, 12:58

I read this interview shortly before coming here this morning. All I can say is...

If the Gripen E can dodge radar, IRST and other sensors as well as this guy dodged performance questions, it'll be a world beater. If I was SAAB, I'd have my pilots take a different approach because this came off bad, bad, bad. Not since Mark McGwire's testimony before Congress about steroids and other PED's in baseball have I seen such a poor showing..

Congressman: "Mr. McGwire, did you use steroids or other PED's while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals" ?

McGwire: "Sir, I'm here to talk about the future, not the past..." Over and over and over...
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Unread post20 Mar 2019, 13:32

Read that interview before coming here this morning. All I can say is..

If the Gripen E is as adept at dodging radar, IRST, enemy AAM's etc. as this pilot was in dodging kinematic questions, it'll be unstoppable... :)

If I was SAAB, I'd drop the "we don't make direct comparisons" line - fast. It comes off as bad, bad, bad. Not since Mark McGwire's testimony before Congress has something sounded so dodgy and incriminating..

Congressmen: "Mr. McGwire, did you use anabolic steroids or other PED's while playing for the St. Louis Cardinals"?
McGwire: "I'm not here to talk about the past, I'm here to talk about the future...". Over and over and over.
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Unread post22 Mar 2019, 16:42

Gripen pilot Musa Mbhokota (a.k.a. Midnite), takes us through an extensive walk-through of Gripen E, explaining in detail its features, especially its weapon systems, at Aero India 2019.

Gripen E has a wide weapon carrying capacity- up to nine missiles and 16 bombs can be carried- making it a fighter that is always ready for operating in a network-centric scenario.


More text and video here: https://gripenblogs.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2092

Some things highlighted in the video: E can carry 9 a2a missiles (7 meteor and 2 IRIS-T); it can do 9G with full internal fuel; sensor fusion and the advanced data link was highlighted; as well as the 360 degree EW system, and the MMI. Drag is lower than for Gripen C. This, together with increased thrust gives a good performance, he says.
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Unread post23 Mar 2019, 12:52

loke wrote:
Gripen pilot Musa Mbhokota (a.k.a. Midnite), takes us through an extensive walk-through of Gripen E, explaining in detail its features, especially its weapon systems, at Aero India 2019.

Gripen E has a wide weapon carrying capacity- up to nine missiles and 16 bombs can be carried- making it a fighter that is always ready for operating in a network-centric scenario.


More text and video here: https://gripenblogs.com/Lists/Posts/Post.aspx?ID=2092

Some things highlighted in the video: E can carry 9 a2a missiles (7 meteor and 2 IRIS-T); it can do 9G with full internal fuel; sensor fusion and the advanced data link was highlighted; as well as the 360 degree EW system, and the MMI. Drag is lower than for Gripen C. This, together with increased thrust gives a good performance, he says.


9g with full internal fuel is impressive, but not very if it isn't carrying weapons. If that's the case, then I find this very misleading.
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Unread post23 Mar 2019, 18:18

F-16 has been 9g with full internal fuel and and four AIM-9s since 1977. Interestingly, the full internal fuel condition is not the critical g load condition. Wing fuel (the first to be burned) causes a down inertia load on the wings during a turn, relieving about 9% of total wing load. Max wing load occurs just as the wings go empty.

External stores on the wing do the same thing, reduce net wing load.
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Unread post27 Mar 2019, 21:33

Saab is to significantly raise the tempo of its flight-test programme for the Gripen E fighter this year, with the activity to be expanded from a current two aircraft to five.

A pair of prototypes, designated 39-8 and 39-9, are already involved in the Swedish manufacturer's campaign. A third such example (-10) will be flown before mid-year, while Saab is to also resume using its "Gripen Demo" airframe – a specially adapted two-seater – in support of the programme. Its lead production example will also support the programme from later this year, before first deliveries are made to the Swedish and Brazilian air forces by the end of 2019.

Flight activities last year included carriage trials with MBDA's Meteor beyond visual-range air-to-air missile and separation tests with the short-range Diehl Defence IRIS-T weapon, and De La Motte says current work involves the fighter's Raven ES-05 active electronically scanned array radar, infrared search and track sensor – both supplied by Leonardo – and Saab electronic warfare suite.
The first four production Gripen Es are currently in final assembly at Saab's Linkoping site, with work having commenced early this year. "We're very happy with the progress of the production programme," says De La Motte, who describes this as "on track". Once its new production system is fully established, it will be able to complete up to 24 aircraft per year, he adds.

Full story: https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... ng-456945/
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Unread post28 Mar 2019, 01:58

johnwill wrote:F-16 has been 9g with full internal fuel and and four AIM-9s since 1977. Interestingly, the full internal fuel condition is not the critical g load condition. Wing fuel (the first to be burned) causes a down inertia load on the wings during a turn, relieving about 9% of total wing load. Max wing load occurs just as the wings go empty.

External stores on the wing do the same thing, reduce net wing load.


Am I to assume the underwing stores then create lift?
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Unread post28 Mar 2019, 03:57

No, not net lift. Although the external stores do sometimes have some aerodynamic up lift, it is very small compared to the down inertia load from positive g on the stores. An exception would be an empty external fuel tank which is large for more aero lift and light for less down inertia load.

The reduced net wing load from heavy external stores is from down inertia load. So net wing load consists of up aero load on the airfoil (large) and stores (small) combined with down inertia load from wing structure, wing internal fuel, and external stores.
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Unread post28 Mar 2019, 10:38

mixelflick wrote:9g with full internal fuel is impressive, but not very if it isn't carrying weapons. If that's the case, then I find this very misleading.


Generally speaking, as long as the missile or bomb is rated for 9g, Gripen can turn 9g with the load. Of course there are caveats to the statement, When at high altitude, high gross weight or the store is very heavy 9g might not apply. Can't say more than that.

johnwill wrote:No, not net lift. Although the external stores do sometimes have some aerodynamic up lift, it is very small compared to the down inertia load from positive g on the stores. An exception would be an empty external fuel tank which is large for more aero lift and light for less down inertia load.

Agree with johnwill. Another example of an exception is the RB04 on the A32 Lansen, it had positive lift when on the wing. Google and you will understand.

best regards.
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Unread post07 Apr 2019, 14:33

The four Gripen E that was mentioned above have entered final assembly:
Mikael Franzén, head of Saab's Gripen Brazil business unit, said on 3 April at the 2019 LAAD Defence and Security exposition that of these four Gripen Es, one is for Brazil while the other three are for Sweden.


Read more: https://www.janes.com/article/87663/laa ... l-assembly
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Unread post21 Apr 2019, 22:14

Swedish taxpayers paid for 14 JAS-39C/D unused airframes in order to keep Gripen’s production line open

https://theaviationgeekclub.com/swedish ... line-open/

Ten of those are C models while the rest are two-seaters. The government had hoped that the fighters could be exported to overseas customers but the orders never came in. These aircraft in fact were ordered to maintain the skills to manufacture fighter aircraft, as the production of Gripens for Sweden’s Air Force and other export customers, such as Thailand, South Africa and the Czech Republic, almost ceased, and a substantial break was looming. The extra Gripens were therefore ordered to keep the assembly line running before the production of JAS-39E.

One possibility is to use these extra 14 aircraft as a replacement for crashed Gripen jets. According to Sputnik News previously, parliament decided that the Swedish Air Force should have 100 Gripen C/Ds. Today, there are 95. No such decision has been made so far.


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