Photo in AirForce Monthly has a clear Thai flag but this is also OK. ^ ^
It’s a two-seat Gripen. One of the six ordered in the first batch. The jet will be delivered in 2011, a year before a delivery of Saab 340 AEW&C and Saab 340 aircraft.
Wing7 arranged a Press Trip several days ago to build more understanding about the program. I missed it BTW but I got my friend to go there instead.
This is what he share from his trip. ^ ^
He said Wing7 is very hot and humid, very humid, let alone the salty sea that can create a corrosion to almost any kind of metal. This should be one of the most extreme condition Gripen will be worked in. Imagine the climate that made seeker of AIM-7 Sparrow degraded so the pilot need to fire two rounds to level up the hit rate during the Vietnam war ….. and those F-4 were bases in Udon, Ubon, and Korat that too far from the sea. So it’s not an easy task for a maintaince work.
He said RTAF already informed Saab about this kind of climate and Saab will work to assure that the fighter will not be too harm by the climate condition. I used to meet Saab representative in Defense & Security 2007 in Bangkok just after the selection of Gripen and Thailand’s climate is my very first question to them. They said Gripen got all weather and climate clerance. So we should see the result of that in next several years.
BTW, RTAF also have a plan to build a new hanger and facility in Wing7 in next several months to accomudate Gripen. It’s a big transfromaion if you see they changing from 3-generation F-5 to 4.5-generation Gripen. Also, this will feature a temperature and humidity-controlled hangar also becasue it will more economical in the long run to keep the plane as dry as possible so they can one way or another reduce the maintiance cost compare to just parking Gripen next to the hot sun beside the beach.
That’s should be no worry about the climate.
And about the name of the program, Peace Suvarnabhumi.
Suvarnabhumi (golden land) is an ancient name of the land which is today Thailand and Southern Thailand used to call ‘The Goldern Cape’. It might mean this project is for protect a golden land because Gripen will be based in the south.
But I don’t understand why they use the world ‘Peace’. It’s a US custom on F-16 but you are buying a european-made Gripen. RTAF might familar with the word peace in ‘Peace Naresuan’ F-16 program. (Naresuan is the name of the great Thai king more than 2 centuries ago.) I think they can be better innovative to name the program.
And I fear that Congress will not approve RTAF to use this word because it’s US made military language. Kidding!! ^ ^
Lastly, some comment from future Gripen pilot is that he feel the Gripen’s cockpit is more user friendy than the previous aircraft he flew and Saab also change some configuration in Cockpit according to RTAF requirement.
Thank you Saab for photos.