Brazilian pilots prepare for flying

A group of fighter pilots and flight controllers from the Brazilian Air Force have recently conducted a course in Beyond Visual Range (BVR) combat with Gripen at The Swedish Air Force Combat Simulation Centre (Flygvapnets Luftstrids Simulerings Centrum, FLSC) in Stockholm, Sweden.

During the one week long course 16 fighter pilots, four flight controllers and a number of staff personnel from the Brazilian Air Force attended. During the week they had the opportunity to train different complex scenarios in simulators and to learn basic combat technics, tactical datalinks and situational awareness flying Gripen in simulators.

"We need to understand the Gripen fighter system before it's being delivered to Brazil. We are here trying to gather as much knowledge and answers we can in order to make the implementation as smooth as possible. When Gripen arrives we want to be prepared and ready to use it as an operational platform. Already trained and with all concepts in place. This week here at FLSC is a great step towards that", says Colonel Ricardo Rezende, Leader of the Fox team responsible for the operational issues regarding implementation and developing operational concepts of Gripen in Brazil.

Able to fly almost immediately

This is the fourth time the Brazilian Air Force is conducting the course. In their preparations, they have had a couple of hours with theory studies in Brazil, primarily to get familiar with the controls in the Gripen cockpit and how to use them. Additionally to that, all of the pilots have a flight experience of at least 500 flight hours in a fighter aircraft.

During the course they go from theory to practice almost immediately and the degree of difficulty in the scenarios increases very fast, ending in a very complex BVR combat scenario.

"Only after an hour here at the course, the pilots are able to fly Gripen in the simulators. I would say, this is one of the advantages of Gripen and why the aircraft is smarter. Its not only because of its radars, sensors, weapons and its other capabilities, it is because it's easy to use and maneuver for the pilot with an outstanding Human Machine Interface (HMI). That´s something that we can see here in the simulators", says Colonel Ricardo Rezende.

Prepared for a smooth implementation

Four of the pilots at the course will be Gripen pilots in the future. However, all of the course attendees will in some way be involved in the future process implementing Gripen in Brazil.

"This opportunity we have here, to be able to train at this facility really improves our training and preparedness for a smooth implementation of the Gripen system. We don't have this kind of simulators and facility in Brazil. If we are going to train this kind of missions in country we need to use our real aircraft. That requires a lot of resources, both when it comes to personnel, time and money, so it's not easy to do", says Captain Luca Centurione, one of the future Gripen pilots.

A unique facility

The course was held at the Swedish Air Force Combat Simulation Centre (Flygvapnets Luftstrids Simulerings Centrum, FLSC, a part of FOI, the Swedish Defence Research Agency) that is a world-leading simulation facility for manned air combat, many-to-many. At FLSC, FOI and the Swedish Air Force have, since 1998, together run operational simulation training courses and exercises both for pilots and for fighter controllers and other staff personnel from a number of nations. National exercises are also conducted regularly, testing concepts on the Air Operations Centre (AOC) level.

"The simulation facility is, if not unique, one of very few of its kind in Europe where the focus is tactical scenarios. The simulator configuration is not intended for re-occurring proficiency training, but rather combining several man-in-the-loop simulators in a heavy congested scenario with computer generated forces. Eight pilots, from next year 12, can for example fly in two (or three) 4-ships against relevant threat configurations comprising a large number of rule-governed simulated units such as other aircraft, air defence systems or ships. In the Brazilian case, BVR combat. Brazil Air Force have described their needs and requirements for the course and we have produced scenarios that match that. Ready when they arrived here", says Niclas Lagerbäck, responsible for tactical operations at FLSC.

Strengthening the relations

The Brazilian Air Force ordered the course from FOI and Saab contributed with two Gripen test pilots as instructors throughout the week supporting the pilots with good advises from an operational perspective.

"This is a very important cooperation between the Brazilian Airforce, Saab and the Swedish Armed Forces. It is an excellent possibility to show the Gripen system to the Brazilian pilots and also a very good opportunity to strengthen our bilateral relations by getting to know each other and learn from each other's experiences", says Lars Nyström, Sales & Marketing Director, Gripen Brazil Saab Aeronautics

A marriage in technology

The production of the 36 Gripen fighters to Brazil is in full speed at Saab and the deliveries to the country will start in 2021.
- Gripen will update the Brazilian Air Force to be state-of-the-art. We are not only buying the aircraft, we are also getting an exchange of experience with the Swedish people and country. My expectations for the future are much higher than the aircraft itself. For me it's a relationship, a marriage in technology, science and experience between our countries. We are learning with you and you are learning with us, concludes Colonel Ricardo Rezende.