Newly graduated Gripen technicians

Since 2004, close to 250 non-Swedish flight technicians have been graduated after completing a Gripen technical course at the Swedish Armed Forces Technical School (FMTS) in Halmstad, Sweden. Now, a further 20 Hungarians have successfully passed the course, including the first Hungarian female Gripen technician.

Image: The first Hungarian female Gripen technician has now graduated. Photo: Sven-Olof Willhöft, Swedish Armed Forces.

Image: The first Hungarian female Gripen technician has now graduated.
Photo: Sven-Olof Willhöft, Swedish Armed Forces

“You have all performed extremely well and I hope that you all feel confident in your own abilities as Gripen technicians,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ulf Crona, deputy head of FMTS in his graduation speech to the students.

“This has been an extremely good and useful course. The balance between theory and practice works very well, and the concept is really good for learning about a modern fighter system,” says Attila Tirol, one of the students who attended this year's course. He has 12 years’ experience as a flight technician, which includes the Russian MiG 29, which was decommissioned in Hungary at the end of last year.

“It was really surprising to see the new technology in the Gripen fighter, the hangers and classroom. There is a huge difference between the technology in the MiG 29 and the modern Gripen,” says Attila Tirol.

In many countries it is customary for flight technicians to specialise in weapons technology or electronic systems, for example. For the Gripen system, you are trained as a "unit technician", in other words one who can work with the entire system.

 

Image: “This has been an extremely good and useful course,” says Attila Tirol, one of the students who attended this year's course. Photo: Sven-Olof Willhöft, Swedish Armed Forces

Image: “This has been an extremely good and useful course,” says Attila Tirol, one of the students who attended this year's course.
Photo: Sven-Olof Willhöft, Swedish Armed Forces

A step on the way

The course lasted 18 weeks. A further six months of on-the-job-training (OJT) now await at the Kecskemét airbase back home in Hungary, where the 14 Hungarian Gripen fighters are based. 110 Hungarian flight technicians have been trained in Sweden since 2005. The country has been successful in developing its own technical competence regarding the Gripen system, and there are now just a handful of Swedish flight technicians remaining in Hungary as support.

There is a new course planned for 20 Hungarian flight technicians in 2013, but the instructors at FMTS cannot rest until then. This autumn, they are expecting new shorter courses for Czechs and Hungarians.

Attila Tirol and his course colleagues are leaving Sweden with a positive experience of the country, especially the people he has met:

“Swedes are very nice, and they are always happy,” he says.

 
Based on a text by Charlotte Pettersson, Swedish Armed Forces www.forsvarsmakten.se