Speaking about the introduction into service of the new Gripen version, the head of the Gripen programme at the Swedish Air Force Staff, Colonel Torgny Fälthammar, highlighted the strong involvement of the service aside the FMV in the connected activities, while maintaining a high readiness operational level of the current Gripen C/D fleet. The latter is planned to remain in service until 2035/2040, while introducing into service the Gripen E, which is expected to become operational in 2023. The service is looking for the right balance between the Gripen C/D and E for the future.
“The Swedish Air Force is part of the new Gripen version’s joint evaluation and validation team together with FMV and Saab. We are facing an introduction (phase) where we will do operational evaluation and set down the syllabus for the introduction of the new aircraft. In the meantime, we need to keep training new pilots and technicians and maintain operational high readiness in this transition”. Looking to the fighter component, the Swedish Air Force is currently maintaining three operational main bases and wings, with two Gripen squadrons each, for a total of six units, in addition to an operational test and evaluation team in Linköping. The service also has C2, ground based sensors and dispersed bases cluster located around the country, the latter with road-based runways of only 16 x 800 meters in length.
A key sector, among other to be renewed by the Swedish Air Force to cope with current and future threats, together with the addition of the Gripen E for the frontline component, is the pilots training which represents a core business for the service. Used for the basic as well as the advanced and tactical training from 1986, the SK 60 (Saab 105) aircraft needs to be replaced, Colonel Fälthammar said, explaining that the service is planning to introduce a propeller trainer for the pilot training while planning to replace the SK60, which is expected to be used for additional five year, with the JAS 39C/D aircraft platform as a gap-filler to be used for tactical and advanced pilot training. On the long-term, the Swedish Air Force is looking to introduce a new generation advanced/lead-in-fighter trainer in addition to the platform for basic training.