Tag Archives: Colombia

SAAB Gripen program update

During the annual Saab Gripen seminar, which was held on Thursday 17 March, Ulf Nilsson, head of Saab business area Aeronautics, and Richard Smith, head of Gripen marketing and sale, gave an update on the status on various developments on the Gripen.

Gripen E/F

At this moment, manufacturing of the first Gripen E prototype is still on schedule and within budget, as the aircraft is in final assembly now. Roll out is planned to take place at 18 May this year. This protoype will be used as test aircraft, so test equipment will be installed in it.

Competitions and tenders

At this moment, SAAB is involved in different competitions and tenders to market the Gripen system. Smith stated the Gripen has been offered to Croatia and Bulgaria as replacement of eageing eastern type of fighter aircraft. Negotiations started with Slovakia for delivery of 8 Gripens to replace the MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft, which are reaching the end of their service life. Finland is looking for new aircraft as replacement for the F-18 Hornet, in which SAAB participates in a tender for 40 Gripen E/F aircraft. Belgium still has to decide what will be the successor of the F-16’s, and the Gripen will take part in the tender for 30-36 frames. In the Asian Pacific market, SAAB started the negotiating process with Malaysia, and they’re even confident the Gripen has in chance in Indonesia. Further more, SAAB stll has a focuss on India, as the Swedish and Indian Prime ministers met in India recently. In the Americas-region Colombia got marketing info about the Gripen system.


Currently, there are 50 Brazilian engineers in Linköping, Sweden, who are being trained to learn the maintenance and development tools of the Gripen and the program. In April the next group will arrive in Sweden, and finally it is expected some 350 Brazilians have found there way to Linköping. SAAB and Embraer are building a new test and engineering center at Embraer’s industrial plant in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil. This will support the operations of the Brazilian Air Force Gripen aircraft.

SAAB expects to sell 400 aircraft in the next 20 years, with a backlog of 96 aircraft at the moment (60 Gripen E’s for Sweden and 36 for Brazil). At this moment the Gripen is already in service with the Swedish military, as well as in Thailand, South Africa, Czech Republic and Hungary.

Two Gripens over an Icelandic postcard. (Image © 21st TAFB)
Two Gripens over an Icelandic postcard. (Image © 21st TAFB)

Proven concept

The Gripen also proved its value in recent conflicts, for example by doing Air Policing missions, such as the Hungarians  did over the Baltics, and the Czechs operated several times from Iceland.

So we certainly will hear more about SAAB and the Gripen in the year’s to come.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Dennis Spronk
Featured image: Artist impression released by the Swedish Department of Foreign Affairs of the Saab JAS 39 Gripen E/F in Brazilian Air Force colours (Image © Utrikes Departementet)


Colombian CN235 crash kills all

A Colombian Air Force CASA (Airbus) CN235-200M crashed in Las Palomas in Cesar, Colombia, on 31 July 2015, with the loss of 11 people on board.

The military transport aircraft flew in the country since 1998. Although the official cause of the crash is still unknown, reports say that the crew reported engine failure before the accident while eye-witnesses saw lightning strike the plane.

The modified aircraft was part of the very mixed transport fleet of the Fuerza Aérea Colombiana (FAC), that includes four CASA C212 Aviocars, nine C295s, seven Lockheed C-130B/Hs, eight Beechcraft King Airs, a pair of Embraer EMB-110s, ten Cessna 208s and for VIP duties two Boeing 737s and two 727s. Colombia is also one of the nations buying Embraer’s biggest and promising KC-390 tanker/transport aircraft, with 12 on order.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A Panamanian airman guides a Colombian CN235 onto the tarmac at Tocumen International Airport as part of the Combined Forces Air Combatant Command during PANAMAX 2007. (Image © Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Lolita Lewis / US Navy)

Israel puts surplus F-16s on the market

‘Well used’ is a term that would definitely apply to former Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16A and B models. Nevertheless, Tel Aviv has offered the type to Croatia as a replacement for its even more vintage MiG-21s. At the same time, Colombia is said to be interested in former Israeli F-16s to take the place of its troubled Kfir fighter aircraft – yes, also from Israel.

Israel received its first F-16A Netz (Hawk in Hebrew) in July 1980, the irony being that it concerned aircraft that were first destined for Iran. The Netz saw extensive use  with the (IAF) and made headlines by bombing the Osirak nuclear plant in Iraq on 7 June 1981.

Over the last decades, F-16C/D Barak (Lightning) and F-16I Sufa (Storm) took over frontline duties, with the Netz being used to train pilots. Recently, the Alenia Aermacchi M-346 has been taking over the training role.

Surplus F-16s are now being offered to Croatia in ACE configuration. This Israel-made update involves a new fire control radar, a helmet-mounted display capability and new cockpit displays. The bid sees competition from Sweden (Saab Gripen C/D) and the US (used F-16C/D).

Meanwhile, Colombia is not happy at all with its small fleet of Israeli made Kfir fighter aircraft since one of the type crashed on 31 December last year. Rumours about a possible Mirage 2000 deal with France proved unfounded, and now the Colombians seem to have turned to Israel once again, inquiring about the F-16 Netz.

According to sources, the ACE modification also added about 1,000 flight hours of service life to the old F-16s, which without a doubt are among the most hard-used F-16s anywhere.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Two Israeli F-16A Netz jets come in for landing. (Image © IAF)


More ATR’s on lease

Danish based lease company Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC) managed to place a number of ATR turboprop aircraft with customers in February 2015.

First out was a ATR 72-500 to Mistral. The Rome, Italy, based airline flies the aircraft for Alitalia.

Easyfly rented a ATR 42-500 from NAC, becoming a new customer. The Colombian airliner was known to be flying a dozen British Aerospace Jetstream 41s only, but we at Airheadsfly.com couldn’t get confirmed if this is the really the first aircraft of a new type for Easyfly.

Brazilian operator Passaredo Linhas Aéreas also became a new client of NAC, on 20 February, when it took delivery of a ATR 72-500, bringing the total Passaredo fleet to 11 ATR 72-500/600s. The Brazilian airliner has Dr. Leite Lopes Airport in Ribeirão Preto as its main hub.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: The ATR 42-600 in company livery (Image © ATR Aircraft)

Mirage 2000 export rumour ‘unfounded’

The French Air Force (Armée de l’Air) has said on Monday 9 February that rumours of an export deal involving Mirage 2000-5F fighter aircraft are ‘unfounded’. No countries or export customers were named, but the statement surely is a response to news reports about 18 Mirage 2000-5Fs being offered to Colombia.

Colombia is suffering from reliability and safety problems with its small fleet of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Kfir fighter aircraft. On 31 December, an engine malfunction caused a non-fatal crash, the latest one in a series of accidents. Over the last few years, no less than five Kfirs were lost.

Last week, reports emerged about France offering 18 surplus Mirage 2000-5F jets to the Latin-American country. These reports can now be dismissed as unfounded.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

Yeah, there's two in there. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Yeah, there’s two in there. (Image © Elmer van Hest)