From machining to delivery in only four weeks

This would be a dream scenario, had I been referring to the actual Gripen production lead time. However, the catchy title refers to the walkthrough Emelie and I were given of all the various stages that are necessary in creating the extraordinary Gripen! How much work could it be producing a Gripen fighter, I mean really? As it turns out – quite a lot!

The amount of engagement, talent and commitment we witnessed during our four weeks rushing through the production facilities in Linköping was unlike anything I could have ever anticipated! No matter where we followed the daily work, our colleagues were always keen to teach and show us their responsibilities and challenging jobs. In addition, no matter where we went, we were shocked to realize the amount of skill needed to deliver a product with such high quality expectations!

A full safety dress-up was essential. Steel-cap safety boots, protective clothing and a clear mind were key in this kind of environment. Everything from chemicals to heavy metal objects are to be handled, all with care and respect. Shaping, bending, cutting, or whatever it may be takes experience – and in the production facilities, a lot of it can be found.

Following the production flow from start to finish, we encountered several major steps in the Gripen manufacturing. In short, we got a glimpse of the manufacturing and assembly of components, as well as the final assembly, testing, upgrading and repairing of the fighters. And what a show it was! Here, we shadowed and assisted skilled production staff in whatever they were up to that day. Machine operators,  mechanics, technicians, assemblers, welders, painters, production managers and many more – all with an eye for detail and patience I could only wish for.

After this, I have no doubt that passing on the extensive experience from the older to the younger generation will be a challenging task. However, with the great dedication and working-environment we have gotten to know during these 4 weeks, teaching the arts of Gripen production should be a fully achievable challenge.

/Johannes  Schygge