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Thai Gripens declared operational

Thailand has declared its first six Saab Gripen fighters to be operational, following two years of training for its air force personnel.

The announcement was made at a ceremony at the Royal Thai Air Force's Wing 7 base in the southern province of Surat Thani, said Saab.

Thailand ordered six Gripen C/Ds in 2008, and in 2010 signed a subsequent deal for six single-seat examples, which are to be delivered in 2013.

 
© Saab

The first Gripen deal also included one Saab 340 airborne-early-warning-and-control-system aircraft and a Saab 340 transport. A second Saab Microwave Systems Erieye radar-equipped aircraft was included with the follow-on Gripen purchase.

Thailand's pilots and technicians were trained in Sweden from 2009, said Saab.

The first batch of aircraft were delivered in February, with the Gripens to replace Thailand's Northrop F-5 fighters. Thailand follows the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Sweden in operating the Gripen, with the type also used by the UK Empire Test Pilots' School.

A new-generation version dubbed the Gripen NG is also involved in a fighter competition in Brazil, but was eliminated from India's medium multi-role combat aircraft competition in April.

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