For a fighter aircraft, high operational availability leads to high sortie rates. This means the pilot can fly more number of hours and can operate from dispersed, temporary air bases as well.
Gripen can very well be flown anywhere and anytime, even in the most severe weather conditions. Owing to its Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) capabilities, it can be operated without any arresting cable or drag chutes from a runway that is only 800 × 16m long and wide. Not just that, a Gripen can have a full Air-to-Air turnaround in just 10 minutes and it doesn’t take more than five ground crew men to work on it and get the fighter back up in the air again.
“Mobile ground resources and reduced need for tools, spare parts, personnel, and facilities, equals to reduced logistic footprint, which is extremely important for deployed operations. Even an entire engine can be replaced and tested in the field in less than an hour,” says Head of Business Unit Gripen Support, Niclas Kolmodin.
Gripen’s high availability, in combination with low life support cost and low Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) ensures lesser downtime as compared to other aircraft. This means a Gripen fleet will spend more time in the air.
As said by Stefan Engstrom at the Gripen seminar held in Delhi, India, “There is no point having an extraordinary aircraft on the runway or in the hanger, if it’s not available when you need it.”