During a flight to the Swedish support group in Kecskemét, Hungary, the captain of a TP100 transport plane (Saab 340) receives a request from the Hungarian Air Force, asking permission to conduct an exercise with the Swedish plane as the target. The exercise is part of a mission called Quick Reaction Alert, QRA.
A short time after passage into Hungarian airspace, two Hungarian Gripens are ordered to fly towards the Swedish TP100 by their air combat control centre. They carefully approach the transport plane from the rear. One of the Gripens remains at a considerable distance, where it can take action with its weapons systems if the aircraft they are to identify does not have friendly intentions. The other Gripen approaches and the pilot is tasked with identifying the aircraft and usually photographing it as well for documentation purposes. After completion of the exercise activity, the Hungarian Gripens leave the Swedish transport plane, which continues its flight to Kecskemét.
Image: Hungarian Gripen monitoring Hungarian airspace. Photo: Håkan Brandt, Swedish Armed Forces
QRA is equivalent to Swedish incident preparedness. For Sweden, incident preparedness has been carried out since 1952 when a Swedish DC-3 was shot down by Soviet fighters in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. This incident preparedness is a part of Sweden's territorial preparedness and also a part of the Swedish Armed Force's mission operations.
That which the crew and passengers experienced during this exercise is partially the result of the cooperation between Sweden, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Thailand. The Hungarian Gripens' pilots, air combat controllers and aircraft technicians have been trained in Sweden. In Hungary, the Czech Republic and Thailand, there are also Swedish personnel on site who provide their international Gripen colleagues with support for JAS 39 Gripen operations. Swedish Air Force Wing F 7 has both employer responsibility and the duty to operatively lead these groups.
Source: Swedish Armed Forces, Skaraborg Wing F 7 (link to webpage in Swedish).