Since then, the Gripen squadron at Wing 7 in Surat Thani has been up in the air a lot and employed at a number of different missions. The key to this quick attainment of the milestone rests as much with the competence of the Royal Thai Air Force personnel as with the high serviceability of the fleet.
RTAF Gripen’s recent deployments include a reconnaissance mission in the Andaman Sea to locate any illegal migrations. RTAF Gripen and Saab 340 Erieye AEW have been a part of this mission since June this year. Further, Thai Gripen pilots are today testing their skills against top guns from other air forces by participating in joint exercises. Earlier this year, at the Thai Boomerang exercise, personnel from the Royal Thai Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force tested out interoperability between the Thai and the Australian forces. In March this year, Thai Gripen took part in Exercise Cope Tiger 2015, a trilateral air exercise conducted by Thailand, Singapore and the United States. Five RTAF Gripen participated in the exercise along with about 90 military aircraft and 1200 personnel from the air forces of the three countries.
Recently, the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Thai Navy successfully linked data systems between the Saab 340 Erieye surveillance AEW, the Gripen fighter and HMS Naresuan. This was the first time that the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Thai Navy worked with integrated radar signals using technology from Saab.
These are just some of the outcomes from the induction of the Gripen Air Defence system which comprised the networked Gripen fighters, an Erieye airborne surveillance system and state-of-the-art C2 system.
According to Kaj Rosander, Director, Gripen Program, Thailand, “I must say I am impressed by the way the Royal Thai Air Force in a very short time has adopted a modern fighter system like Gripen. The Air Force has already logged more than 5000 hours with Gripen. We have only received positive feedback from pilots, technicians and the management. We want to enable Thailand in its aerospace ambitions and we believe that Gripen technologies should be a part of that equation. Saab is committed to Thailand and will deliver the best industrial co-operation and technology transfer over the life of the program – providing what Thailand’s Air Force and industry wants and needs.”
THE GRIPEN AIR DEFENCE PROGRAM
The 2008 agreement was signed between FMV, Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration and the Royal Thai Air Force, for the delivery of six Gripen C/D multi-role fighter aircraft of the latest version and a surveillance system to replace its ageing F-5 aircraft. A further batch of six Gripen C fighters was ordered in 2010.
The Gripen Air Defence Package includes:
- 12 Gripen C/D multi-role fighter aircraft
- Two ERIEYE Airborne Early Warning Systems (AEW) mounted on Saab 340 regional aircraft.
- Command and Control System including Data Link.
- A Saab 340 aircraft for air / ground crew training and transport purposes.
- Anti-surface missiles
- Transfer of technology
- Training of air and ground crew
- Mission support equipment
- Ground support equipment
- Master of Science Scholarship Program for Thai students in Sweden.
- Long-lasting Bilateral Cooperation Program
As part of the Swedish proposal, Saab is transferring 100 man-years of advanced aerospace technologies to Thailand. The aim of this transfer of technology is, through long-term partnerships, designed to sustain and positively enhance the aerospace and defence industry in Thailand. The transfer will also provide partnership for local Thai industry in future development programs including the Gripen program.