The first test of air-to-air refueling with a Gripen aircraft from a Swedish Air Force C-130 Hercules successfully completed.
The test flights were performed over the Baltic Sea east of the Swedish coastline. The C-130 from the Swedish Air Force wing F 7 was operated from FMV Test Center and Gripen aircraft were operated from Saab. Saab’s verification flight tests included a total of six sorties with test aircrafts of the latest standard of Gripen, the Gripen C single-seat and Gripen D dual-seat. The results were very successful.
“The verification flights have been conducted according to plan and all the objectives have been fulfilled. During the campaign the Air-to-Air refueling capability between Gripen and the C-130 Tanker has been verified within the required envelope including refueling at various speeds, altitudes and with various external loads. Now FMV will continue to integrate Gripen’s air-to-air refueling capability in the Swedish Air force” says Mats Thorbiörnson, Chief test pilot at Saab Aerosystems.
This was the first in a series of tests that Saab together with FMV conducted in order to verify the systems ability to support the Gripen aircraft for Air-to-Air refueling operations. In April 2005 Saab verified Gripen’s air-to-air refueling capability with a NATO standard compatible tanker from the South African Air force. The Gripen C and D are fully NATO-interoperable and meet the demands for both national and international operations. The air-to-air refueling capability increases Gripen’s operational range and endurance, a major advantage in international operations.
The project has been ongoing since the year 2000 and the goal is to have one certified Swedish Air Force C-130 Hercules demonstrator for Air-to-Air refueling operational from January 2006. The C-130 is equipped with the latest generation Air-to-Air refueling technology including an “all electric pod”. Two flat “palletized” extra fuel tanks will be added to the system during the spring 2006.