Saab is to establish an advanced training center for Gripen pilots at Overberg air force base in South Africa, the Swedish company announced this week. The center will act as a fighter weapons school and will specialize in honing the skills of experienced pilots. The first course will take place late next year, and the syllabus will focus on advanced multi-role aspects of Gripen operations.
AFB Overberg’s location provides access to extensive airspace with varying terrain. The courses will be run in the South African summer, providing excellent meteorological conditions at a time when such advanced training would be difficult to undertake in the Northern Hemisphere. Mixed in with advanced operational flying exercises and academic instruction will be survival training in the African environment.
The establishment of the fighter weapons school is being overseen by the Gripen User Group, which includes all current Gripen-operating nations. Under the auspices of the group, a number of “Lion Effort” joint exercises have been undertaken, the most recent of which was held at Ronneby in Sweden earlier this year. Gripen aircraft from Sweden, Czech Republic, Hungary and South Africa took part, while Thailand sent observers.