Tag Archives: Finland

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)


US F-15s to train over Finland

In  May, US F-15 Eagle fighter jets will perform joint training with Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornets in the skies over Finland, the ministry of defense in Helsinki confirmed to Airheadsfly.com on Tuesday 10 February. It marks the first time the US and Finland work together in a large scale military exercise.

The F-15s likely are part of a Theater Security Package  (TSP) such as the ones the US sent to Europe in 2015 also. Then, the fighter jets also took part in various military exercises, although they did not venture into Scandinavia.


The US pilots and ground crew will be based at Kuopio-Rissala airbase, home to Finnish Air Force F-18s. The exercise runs between 9 and 22 May and should largely play out in the skies over Lapland and eastern Finland, close to neighbouring Russia.

See our report on last year’s US Air National Guard TSP to Europe.

© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: Positive rate of climb… (Image © Dennis Spronk)

‘Finland: request for F-18 replacement soon’

Finland is about the issue a request for propopsal (RfP) to five aircraft manufacturers for a replacement for its ageing F-18 Hornets, sources in the Nordic country state on Wednesday 2 December. The five companies are Dassault, Saab, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Boeing.

The request is to be formally issued early in 2016, a mere ten years or so before the first F-18s run out of usable service life. Earlier this year, it was reported that odds are in favour of Dassault’s Rafale and Saab’s JAS39E/F Gripen. The first flight of the latter is on the cards for 2016.

Lockheed Martin will likely be asked about the F-35 Lightning II, while Boeing is to pitch the F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is in deperate need of sales to keep production going. BAE Systems is to inform Helsinki about the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Two of roughly 60 Finnish Hornets to be replaced. (Image © Elmer van Hest)


The replacement of roughly 60 Hornets is said to cost anywhere between 7 and 11 billion USD, Finnish sources say. A decision likely is still a few years away.

Finland accepted its very first F-18 Hornet in 1995 and the last one only five years later. Most aircraft were assembled by Patria Finavitec Oy. Among other tasks, the Finnish Air Forces uses the fighter jets to fend off Russian aircraft snooping around over the Baltic Sea.

Finland until this week was the only non-NATO country with a fully NATO qualified fighter unit, flying the F-18 Hornet at Rissala base in Kuopio. A Swedish Gripen unit also passed NATO exams late in November.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

First A350 XWB for European airline

 Finnair took delivery of the first of 19 A350 XWBs on order on Wednesday 7 October,  becoming the first European operator and the third worldwide of Airbus’ newest airliner. Follow the delivery flight here. Finnair will commence commercial services with the A350 XWB later this week, with a European tour starting at Amsterdam and Oslo on 9 October.

Long-haul A350 XWB flights will start from Helsinki to Shanghai on 21 November. The aircraft joins the airline’s all-Airbus fleet of 45 aircraft in operation, today comprising 30 A320 Family aircraft and 15 A330/A340s.

To date, Airbus has recorded a total of 783 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 41 customers worldwide, already making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.

Source: Airbus
Featured image: The first Finnair A350 XWB, seen in Toulouse. (Image © Airbus / F. Lancelot)

Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015 kicks off

One of the largest military exercises of Europe kicked off on 25 May 2015. A third of the airspace of Sweden and giant areas – air, sea and ground – of the north of Finland and Norway serve as a training area for the Arctic Challenge Exercise 2015, or ACE15, lasting until 5 June 2015. Call it the Scandinavian Red Flag if you want.

The line-up of participating aircraft is impressive. Serving mainly from Bodø Airbase in Norway, Luleå-Kallax in Sweden and Rovaniemi in Finland, a total of 120 planes and 4,000 personnel are joining the simulated combat scenarios.


A rare sight in German skies, an Eurofighter EF2000 that seems to be fully combat ready (Image © Marcel Burger)
A German Air Force Eurofighter EF2000, called Typhoon in RAF service

Combat element: 110

  • 16 Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-18C/D Hornets of the Finnish Air Force
  • 8 Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F/A-18C/D Hornets of the Swiss Air Force
  • 12 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM/BM of the Royal Norwegian Air Force
  • 18 SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripens of the Swedish Air Force
  • 12 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcon of the Royal Danish Air Force
  • 12 Lockheed Martin (General Dynamics) F-16CG from the 510th Fighter Squadron (Aviano AB) of the US Air Force
  • 12 Eurofighter EF2000 of the German Air Force
  • 8 Mirage 2000 of the French Air Force
  • 8 Panavia Tornado GR4 of the Royal Air Force
  • 4 British Aerospace Hawk of the Royal Air Force
A Learjet belonging to Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung (GFD), similar to the one providing targeting and EWF capability. (Image © Marcel Burger)

Electronic warfare & command element: 6

  • 1 SAAB ASC-890 AEW&C aircraft of the Swedish Air Force
  • 1 Dassault Falcon DA-20 of the Royal Norwegian Air Force
  • 2 Dassault Falcon DA-20 of Cobham, on behalf of the Royal Air Force
  • 1 Pilatus PC-9 of GfD, on behalf of the German Air Force
  • 1 Learjet 35 of GfD, on behalf of the German Air Force
RNLAF KDC-10 with registration T-235. Archive photo (Image © Dennis Spronk)
RNLAF KDC-10 with registration T-235. Archive photo (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Tanker element: 4

  • 1 Lockheed C-130AAR (KC-130) in-flight refuelling aircraft of the Swedish Air Force
  • 1 Airbus Voyager (A330 MRTT) of the Royal Air Force (AirTanker)
  • 1 Airbus A310 MRTT of the German Air Force
  • 1 McDonnel Douglas KDC-10 of the Royal Netherlands Air Force
A good camouflage goes a long way, but in the case of this Swedish Eurocopter NH90 perhaps not enough to hide an overdose of black and especially yellow markings. The NH90 is called Hkp14 in Sweden, and introduction of the type in Swedish armed forces met delay after delay. That's why the Swedes ordered 15 UH-60 Black Hawks to operate along the NH90s. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
Sweden may field one of its semi-operational NH90s to ACE15 as pictured here, but it might as well be a Super Puma, called HKP10 (Image © Elmer van Hest)

Rotary support: 1

  • 1 NHIndustries NH90 or a Aérospatiale Super Puma of the Swedish Air Force

ACE15 plans to fly during two mission periods a day. The line-up and ambitions of ACE15 are larger than the first edition of ACE in 2013, when 90 aircraft and 2,000 personnel participated.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger, based on source information provided by the Norwegian Armed Forces (Forsvaret) and Swedish Armed Forces (Försvarsmakten)
Featured image: Two Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16s in action in the days ahead of the start of ACE15 (Image © Nils P. Skipnes / Forsvaret)

A pair of Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen aircraft passing ground forces positions during Cold Response 2014 (Image © Ole-Sverre Haugli / Hæren / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A pair of Swedish Air Force JAS 39C Gripen aircraft. (Image © Ole-Sverre Haugli / Hæren / Forsvarets mediesenter)
A Finnish Air Force F-18A photographed from the L-410 (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)
A Finnish Air Force F-18C (Image © Eesti Kaitsevägi)