Swedish Gripen Community Draws Libya Lessons

Saab JAS 39 Gripen fighters

From Robert Wall, Aviation Week:  Following its first operational deployment of Gripen fighters as part of the NATO-led Libya campaign, the Swedish military is assessing what improvements in equipment and processes need to be made for future deployments of the fighter.

Although Swedish air force officials are generally satisfied with their Libya experience, in which they logged more than 650 sorties, equipment and training lessons have emerged. One of the main ones is addressing a quirk in how the “Have Quick” secure radio on Gripen functions, to assure it can be used properly in the NATO system, says Maj. Anders Gustafsson, who served as the acting squadron leader for FL02, the second rotation of Gripens to Sigonella, Sicily.

During Libya operations, the Gripens, although equipped with Have Quick, could not tie into NATO’s secure network, forcing pilots to be the only ones to operate unsecured and use code words to exchange orders.

The problem was that NATO was using the “training” rather than “operational” Have Quick network, but with operational security keys. On Gripen, when it recognized the operational security keys, it automatically switched the radio to the operational network. A fix should be ready next year, Gustafsson notes. . . .

Also, the Gripens suffered because it took time to get the cryptological kit for the fighters, even though Swedish personnel were cleared for the equipment. Danish and Norwegian air force officers aided the Swedish in clearing that hurdle, as well as in providing access to key information such as the air-tasking order that was being withheld in the opening phase of the deployment.  (photo: Katsuhiko Tokunaga/Gripen International)

Image: Gripen%204%201%2011%20Saab%20JAS%2039%20Gripen%20fighters.jpg