Hungarian Defence Minister Csaba Hende has put Swedish aircraft manufacturer Saab in an awkward position, by telling journalists of the Napi Gazdaság daily on 15 June that the recent hard landing of a JAS 39C Gripen of the Hungarian Air Force due to nose wheel problem is probably caused by a software bug.
By running ahead of any official findings of the investigation in the semi-crash at Kecskemet Airbase of the Gripen jet Mr. Hende does exactly what he told journalist he didn’t want to do. But according to the Defence Minister the Swedish Air Force had a similar situation where the nose wheel didn’t want to react, something Airheadsfly.com was not able to verify (yet) with Swedish authorities. Or Saab in Linköping for the matter, where senior leadership probably wishes to safeguard the relationship with current and potential new buyers by staying low and are quite likely less happy with the pre-mature statement of the Hungarian Defence Minister – whether it will prove to be true or false.
However, Mr. Csaba Hende also had some good news to tell: the Gripen C in question can very likely be repaired and put back into service. Hungarian Air Force officer Sándor Kádár, who piloted the Gripen in question, was able to put the jet relatively safely on the ground, before ejecting from the plane.
The “software bug” remark comes as the pressure on the Hungarian Defence Ministry and the Hungarian Air Force (HunAF) is mounting. The Gripen C incident at Kecskemet came only a few weeks after the high-profile crash of a HunAF JAS 39D Gripen two-seater at Čáslav Air Base in the Czech Republic during tri-annual Saab Gripen exercise Lion Effort 2015. Initial findings of that incident – with the plane believed to be a write-off – is that the very senior aircrew made a mistake.
Like the Czech Air Force, the Hungarian Air Force leased 14 Gripen planes from Sweden – down to 12 after the two recent crashes. Of the other Gripen users, only Sweden lost a five aircraft, but none to a technical issue with the plane itself. Apart from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Sweden the other JAS 39 operators are Thailand, South Africa and soon Brazil.
The Hungarian jets would be owned by the country’s tax payers in 2026. The Czech lease the jets till at least 2027. The Slovak Air Force is very much interested in striking a similar deal for possibly 12 aircraft, and is already slowly co-operating with the Gripen squadron at Čáslav. Airheadsfly.com editors Elmer van Hest and Dennis Spronk paid an exclusive visit to the Czech Air Force’s JAS 39 base some time ago.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Hungarian Air Force JAS 39C Gripen on approach (Image © Marcel Burger)