Before the madness of the Farnborough air show kicked in (and boy, does that feel like an age ago), I had an enjoyable day with Saab at the Royal International Air Tattoo. This included a quick briefing about the company’s plans to open a Gripen Fighter Weapon School at Overberg air base in South Africa.
To be open to all current Gripen operators (namely the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa, Sweden and Thailand) and future users (likely to include Switzerland, which is now negotiating a 22-aircraft deal), the facility will run one two-month course per year. Benefits for South Africa will include hosting international partners and getting funds from leasing access to a few of its aircraft (Saab image below), while other nations will get access to “extensive airspace over mountain ranges, deserts and the Indian and Atlantic Ocean”, along with “favourable metrological conditions”, says Saab.
Saab South Africa president and ace Gripen test pilot Magnus Lewis-Olsson is looking for a more catchy name for the school, and has already ruled out “Top Gun 2″. I’m suggesting “Top Sun” but would like to hear any of your suggestions; keep them clean, folks!