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.

Brazil

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)

 

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).

Colombia
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)

Cruzex Crusade

Rarer than a polar bear in the Amazon; A-37 Dragonflies form Uruguay, ready to go on the runway of Natal airbase, Brasil. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Rarer than a polar bear in the Amazon; OA-37 Dragonflies from Colombia, ready to go on the runway of Natal airbase, Brasil. (Image © Ralph Blok)

It’s funny how certain things go by largely unnoticed by major news networks who are otherwise quick to pick up on things. Take for example Cruzex 2013, the multinational exercise now taking place in the skies over Brazil. Taking part in this military exercise are the air forces of Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and last but not least … Venezuela and the United States, who until recently weren’t on very friendly terms with each other. AIRheads↑Fly guest photographer Ralph Blok went on a crusade to Natal Air Force Base in Brazil to see how things were working out.

Cruzex stands for Cruzeiro do Sul Exercise, an exercise that aims to train aircrews in modern war situation. The 2013 edition is actually the seventh edition of this South American multinational exercise. Main operating bases are Natal in Brazil, and Recife which is situated south of Natal. A total of 2000 crew and other personnel are involved, bringing along 86 aircraft, ranging from Chilean and US F-16s to exotic and rare A-37 Dragonfly and – even more rare! –  FMA IA 58 Pucara aircraft from Uruguay.

Cruzex 2013 started on November 4 and will end November 15. Missed it? Simply look below and remember; there’s always next time.

Star of the show? We think so! (Image © Ralph Blok)
Were the Uruguayans the stars of the show? We think so! (Image © Ralph Blok)
Uruguay sent not only A-37s, but also this Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) IA 58 Pucara. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Uruguay sent not only A-37s, but also this Fábrica Militar de Aviones (FMA) IA 58 Pucara. (Image © Ralph Blok)
At Natal, aircraft operated from sun shelters. In the background, US F-16s of 113th Wing, DC Air National Guard, are seen. (Image © Ralph Blok)
At Natal, aircraft operated from sun shelters. In the background, US F-16s of 113th Wing, DC Air National Guard, are seen. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Cruzex 2013 marks the first time forces from Venezuela and the US are training together, after years of political and ideological arguments between the two countries. The death of former Venezuela president Hugo Chávez in March this year, clearly changed the mood. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Cruzex 2013 marks the first time forces from Venezuela and the US are training together after years of political and ideological arguments between the two countries. The death of former Venezuela president Hugo Chávez in March this year, clearly changed the mood. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The first F-16 was delivered to Venezuela in 1983, making the country one of the very first operators of the type. The Venezuela Vipers at Natal looked spotless. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The first F-16 was delivered to Venezuela in 1983, making the country one of the very first operators of the type. The Venezuela Vipers at Natal looked spotless. (Image © Ralph Blok)
More from (Image © Ralph Blok)
More from the DC Air National Guard. These aircraft normally operate from Andrews AFB, Washington DC. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Perfect light on this F-16C Fighting Falcon. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Perfect light on this F-16C Fighting Falcon. (Image © Ralph Blok)
It gets interesting here in the background.... Two Brazilian F-5EM Tigers look on while a US F-16C passes by. (Image © Ralph Blok)
It gets more interesting here in the background … Two Brazilian F-5EM Tigers look on while a US F-16C passes by. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Time now for the home crowd to take the stage; an F-5EM from the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) rolls by Ralph Blok's camera. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Time now for the home crowd to take the stage; an F-5EM from the Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) thunders by Ralph Blok’s camera. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The ATC tower provides and even better platform for photograpy. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The ATC tower provides and even better platform for photography. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Brazil received its first Mi-35M Hinds in April 2010. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Brazil received its first of twelve Mi-35M Hinds in April 2010. The FAB calls them AH-2 Sabre. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The participation of FAB Mirage 2000s was a bit of a surprise, as the Brazil is expected to stop flying the type in December. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The participation of FAB Mirage 2000s was a bit of a surprise, as Brazil is expected to stop flying the type in December. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Twelve Mirage 2000s - among which several duals - are operated by the Brazilians. All are ex French Air Force fighters. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Twelve Mirage 2000s – among which several dual-seaters – are operated by the Brazilians. All are ex-French Air Force fighters. (Image © Ralph Blok)
No less than 99 A-29's were ordered by Brazil. (Image © Ralph Blok)
No less than 99 A-29s were ordered by Brazil. Of these, 33 are of the single seat A-29A version, one of which is seen here. The final aircraft was delivered in June 2012. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Tropical surroundings, lovely UH-60L Black Hawk, gorgeous light. What more can you ask for? (Image © Ralph Blok)
Tropical surroundings, lovely UH-60L Black Hawk, gorgeous light. What more can you ask for? (Image © Ralph Blok)
Well, we could ask for an A-1, the Brazilian variant of the AMX. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Well, we could ask for an A-1A, the Brazilian variant of the AMX. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Ecuador operates a total of 18 Super Tucanos, and sent a few of them to Cruzex 2013. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Ecuador operates a total of 18 Super Tucanos, and sent a few of them to Cruzex 2013. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Chile was also present at Natal, sending former Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcons from Antofagosta. (Image © Ralph Blok)
Chile was also present at Natal, sending former Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcons from Antofagosta. (Image © Ralph Blok)
The home crowd from Brazil! (Image © Ralph Blok)
This month, Natal was the place to be. (Image © Ralph Blok)

A lot of thanks to Ralph Blok for sharing his pictures here at AIRheads↑Fly. More of his photographic work can be seen here.

© 2013 Ralph Blok & AIRheads’ editor Elmer van Hest

Related posts