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Pic of the Day: Thanksgiving Eve Fighter Candy

by John Reed on November 23, 2011

Here’s your day before Thanksgiving fighter candy. It’s two Swedish JAS-39 Gripens taking off from RAF Lakenheath in England to practice dogfighting this week against USAF F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles that are based there.

No word yet on how well the new-ish Gripen have fared against the older F-15s.

Here’s an Air Force statement that reveals very little about the joint-training:

“I thought the training was a huge success, and to work with our sister wing from Sweden was outstanding,” said Capt. Mike Culhane, the 493rd Fighter Squadron C-flight commander. “We executed our mission along with the Swedish pilots seamlessly. We were very impressed with the Gripen; it’s a very capable aircraft.”


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{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

SjöRobban November 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm

Great looking plane, Now we just want the go-ahead to start with the NG-AC…go Sweden!


Guest November 23, 2011 at 7:30 pm

The Gripen is a very impressive little fighter. Props to the Swedes.


jamesb November 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Hope they had fun….
Good moral and training…..
But anybody on the last ACTUAL air to air combat on the planet?


Sgt K November 23, 2011 at 9:50 pm

just have some balls to stand up to the unwelcome terrorist immigrants

sgt k


fromage November 23, 2011 at 11:42 pm

Again with the sarcasm ambiguity.


PMI November 24, 2011 at 1:00 am



Clive November 24, 2011 at 6:08 am

Once again though Sgt K is correct, we do not have the balls to stand up to our domestic terrorists. You can see this clearly by how much groups such as MAC are doing so well, infact they're thriving infact. You might not like his comment but the fact is that what he said is correct. I should know as sadly I live here.


Lance November 24, 2011 at 3:40 am

The Griphen is a newer design but lighter and designed for multirole function the F-15C is more powerful and is a straight air superiority fighter. The F-15 has the edge but it all depends on the pilots of both sides of the exercise.

The F-15C can in a dogfight out climb and dive a Griphen anytime.


USAFTW November 24, 2011 at 5:04 am

european weapons = fail

F-15's gonna rule the skies.


Brian November 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm

American ignorance = downfall


PMI November 29, 2011 at 12:01 am

UK Carriers = No aircraft


Fluoro Ninja December 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm

UK Carriers = No aircraft because the US military industrial complex can't get it's sh*t together with the F-35


passingby February 9, 2012 at 12:33 am

you don't want the F-35 anywhere in your military even if it somehow rolls off the assembly line.

Mastro November 30, 2011 at 11:34 am

The F15 HAS ruled the skies- but its not 1985 (I wish)

The Typhoon is a better fighter – but a bit late to the fight (Cold War)

The F15 will serve as a good bomb truck for another 15-20 years depending on airframe wear and how the F35 program goes.


passingby February 9, 2012 at 12:34 am

I'm not sure whether you've read anything beside American propaganda. But the Russian flankers have been beating the crap out of the US F-15 in fly offs and combat exercises since 1992.


Clive November 24, 2011 at 6:11 am

Considering that this 'Euro weapon' in question here out performs the Eagle in A-A fights probabaly won't please you, the fact it costs some 10 to 20 times less to operate over a year probably annoys you off even more. Your post could be summed up as blind American arrogance at its best.. Of course your F-22's would defeat the Gripen, when they're not grounded and when they're not killing the pilots that is…


William C. November 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm

An F-15E with APG-82 AESA and JHMCS would wipe the floor with the Gripen. An F-15C with APG-63(V)3 and JHMCS would do the same.

Or if you want something in the same cost range, the F-16E will do the job.

The problems of the F-22A can and should be overcome if the production wasn't halted and those aircraft we do have given a bare minimum of funding.


William C. November 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Sorry that should say the F-22As problems would be overcome if the program was NOT given just a bare minimum of funding.


tiger November 26, 2011 at 11:09 am

Sorry, but you're just flag waving for the home team. They can do no wrong.


Papi1960R January 22, 2012 at 10:36 pm

Actually when the Gripens came to Red Flag they were able to engage the Raptor in Close Air to Air combat before the vaunted Radar and sensor suite could pick them up. The US explaination? They were too small. The result? Like the Rafale before it, the Gripen is not invited back.


passingby February 9, 2012 at 12:49 am

The American military is just like their fan boys – can't handle the truth.

I won't be surprised one bit if the over-hyped F-22 gets beat in a dogfight by the Su-37, Rafale, Gripen, Eurofighter, J-11B, J-10B, T-50, J-20 etc.


PMI November 24, 2011 at 6:17 pm

"Your post could be summed up as blind American arrogance at its best."

—Apparently irony is a dish best served with a side of lutefisk..


europeanssuck November 24, 2011 at 9:11 pm

That's why American planes had better statistics/flight combat? Your stupid european arrogance makes me laugh.

Now gtfo this site kid.


Stewie November 25, 2011 at 4:43 am

Anyway, my dad i stronger than your…


passingby February 9, 2012 at 1:08 am

What do you mean by American planes had better statistics / flight combat?? It's such an amateurish sentence.

The US lost more aircraft in the Korean War than China, USSR, and N Korea combined.

The US lost more aircraft in the Vietnam War than China, USSR, and N Vietnam combined.

Some veteran US pilots got shot down over N Korea by Chinese pilots with less than 50 flying hours (i.e. they were still trainees!)

You've been feeding on fudged stats by the notoriously dishonest US military and government.


blight November 26, 2011 at 12:01 pm

The more relevant question is how these aircraft are expected to perform against their direct adversaries, and not against NATO/American aircraft.


ToTheRiver November 24, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Appreciate posting this under the title"Fighter Candy" and not "Fighter Pxxx". Much more appropriate


TCA November 26, 2011 at 9:10 am

I for one like the "fighter porn" descriptive. While I respect your right to your opinion, I find it to be immature. Words cannot hurt you.


tiger November 26, 2011 at 11:11 am

Like fighter porn & real porn. I miss nose art as well.


IKnowIT November 24, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Why the F is the USAF still in the UK? The cold war is over and the British can spend their own money to defend themselves. And to add to that, why do WE have to spend our fuel training the swedes, for Christ sake? Let the Brits do it with their Typhoons! Sounds like a great place to save some budget $$$


pandaa November 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm

not sure if serious..


Tim UK November 25, 2011 at 7:28 am

We don’t need your fighters , you need the giant aircraft carrier called HMS Uk. Try getting your jets , to Afghan/Iraq and this year Iran without it !

Your Atlantic logistics would collapse overnight if the UK pulled the plug on the US bases , never mind Menworth Hill and Flying Dales .


Guest November 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Are you serious? Ever heard of Lajes airfiled, in the Azorean islands?


TimUK November 26, 2011 at 9:49 am

Really , I suggest you take a close look at US dependence on the UK for bases as well as other UK territory for its operations. Diego Garcia ? Ascension Island , Cyprus .


blight November 26, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Agreed. However, the original point was probably that the United States has many facilities in the United Kingdom it no longer needs; the Soviets are no longer around and Europe is safe from nuclear armageddon.

Keeping combat units in Europe to wait for a battle that isn't likely to happen again overnight is pointless, as is stockpiling munitions waiting for a war that will never come (and saddling the military with eventual disposal costs if stockpiles are continuously replenished). It will be better for the UK if the US begins the drawdown now, as it frees up military properties for the market, and environmental pollution on military sites can be dealt with immediately once they vacate. It does pull jobs out of the United Kingdom relating to supporting Americans and providing goods and services though (which might be why we are also still in Germany!).

We definitely still need facilities overseas, but we don't need to hold onto fighter bases. We need bases for logistics, to quickly rearm NATO if something happens or to rearm Israel in case of Nickel Grass II. We need Landstuhl and Ramstein, as they are the first stepping-stone from CENTCOM back home.

That said, now that Libya is "ours", perhaps we'll move back into former Wheelus?

tiger November 26, 2011 at 11:15 am

We don't have much left in the Uk really. Some naval HQ in london & about 2 airbases. We are far far from the good old days.


blight November 29, 2011 at 8:11 am

You are mostly correct. A website from the tree-huggers is:

Look at all the intelligence facilities. Bet those aren't moving. And an old BSR http://www.caab.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploa

The BSR suggests much of the American military iceberg is already at home. Many of the largest bases are at home, for instance. The overseas list starts at page DOD-76.

We have an air station in Aruba? Interesting. We have chateau gendebien, which sounds like a NATO accoutrement. Many on the BSR list are closed, like Forward Operating Location Manta, which is on the list for Ecuador.


Riceball November 28, 2011 at 1:52 pm

The reason is that there's a lot to be said about training against planes that aren't your own, especially when they don't look or perform like your own, I think this is referred to as differential training or something like that. It's the same reason that aggressor aircraft used in Top Gun and during Red Flag are not line fighters that we currently use, are painted in different paint schemes than what we use, and fly using different tactics. While nothing can truly prepare someone for real combat it does help training against someone who doesn't look like one of your own if not like the (potential) enemy, and doesn't fly using the same tactics as you.


Brian Black November 25, 2011 at 7:57 am

Excellent aircraft. The UK should consider buying Gripen rather than tipping billions into the F35 money pit – leave the US to disappear under crushing debt on its own.


PMI November 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Choosing aircraft due to personal prejudices rather than strategic requirements always works out brilliantly.


ziv November 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm

Still kind of chuckling at Brians post. I think the Gripen is a brilliant Gen 4 aircraft, and if the updates continue, it could, arguably, be considered to be close to a Gen 4.5 aircraft someday. But the F35 is Gen 5, and 4 F35's would eat the lunch of 8 to 10 Gripens. Probably without the Gripens even knowing the F35's were in the neighborhood. It is possible that the newer Gripens are better than the newest F16's, but they are not even close to what an F35 can do.
There is a huge role for Gen 4 or Gen 4.5 aircraft over the next 20 years, but lets not confuse them with Gen 5 aircraft and the roles that each play.


tiger November 26, 2011 at 11:22 am

If I get you in a gunsight, all that 5th gen techno bullshit goes down in flames. It is not the toy, Its the man or woman with the stick that matters.


blight November 26, 2011 at 11:51 am

This argument always pops up. It's either the assumption that training means nothing or that equipment is irrelevant. Neither is true. You need parity in one and excellence in the other. Excellence in both isn't always possible, but….

PMI November 26, 2011 at 4:32 pm

The point being that you'll be dead long before you'll have the chance to put your pipper on anything.

Brian Black November 28, 2011 at 10:59 am

I did post that partly to antagonise, ziv.

F35 is by far the best capability option for the UK. However, Gripen is not entirely useless and would be more than capable for most of the tasks that we would give it; and lower tech equipment still has its uses as part of an overall coalition, even against the best oposition.

Consider that the UK is broke and could be heading back into recession. Would generation 4.5 Griffons flying off Royal Navy carriers be of more use to the UK than unaffordable 5th gen F35s sitting in an LM showroom?


PMI November 29, 2011 at 12:22 am

If you're going that route Rafales would be be a better option. They're already built to carrier standards and are a better strike platform than the Gripen.

Fluoro Ninja December 19, 2011 at 11:14 pm

What you meant to say was 'The F-35, when LM eventually manage to get it airworthy and in full rate production at full capability, will, I think, totally beat the Euro plane… just check out the projections LM have posted on the internet!'

As of right now anything that can fly it's intended mission is better than the 'Gen 5' F-35. The F-35 can only be considered Gen 5 once they actually manage to build the damn thing and have them flying without wondering whether the wings will fall off.

In the meantime you'd better hope that some boffin doesn't come up with a nifty algorithm to greatly degrade the advantage of the limited (by design) stealth built into the F-35.


passingby February 9, 2012 at 1:30 am

sorry, but the F-35 is an outlandishly expensive semi-flying piece of junk.

You'll see in a couple of years.

pretty sure that Russia and China will laugh their asses off if the US actually fields the turkey.


Brian Black November 28, 2011 at 10:48 am

You are absolutely right, PMI. For the UK to discount the French and Sweedish options out of hand in favour of F35 would be prejudicial to a fair consideration of requirements.


jhm November 26, 2011 at 12:56 am

hey guys. is the gripen ng a new build aircraft? or is it possible to remake a gripen c or w/e into the gripen ng?


Maciek November 26, 2011 at 8:29 am

From what I know it is a vastly modified version. Think F/A-18C turned into F/A-18E kind of deal.


jhm November 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Thanks! I really appreciate your answer


SjöRobban December 2, 2011 at 3:10 am


Our engine supplier(Volvo Aero) want us to modify the current version, and build upon that. But Saab wants to build "Next Generation" and that ofcourse means a completely new aircraft, ground up, start with a blank sheet of paper. Nothing has been decided yet. Ofcourse we want the GNG.


jimmy June 17, 2013 at 10:31 pm

Yes gripen ng i a new bulid aircraft


PMI November 23, 2011 at 8:10 pm

Umm the F-15C & E ARE older planes.


tiger November 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm

The basics of air combat laid out by Oswald Boelcke in WW1 still apply in 2011.


crackedlenses November 26, 2011 at 5:43 pm

And if you can't find your target, or if your target is faster and more agile than you, or if you just have slower reflexes, then the rules work for the other guy and it's the end of the debate…..


Mastro November 30, 2011 at 11:31 am

Yeah- air forces are just silly putting radars on planes.

Better to use the old Mk 1 eyeball.

I think Moore's Law has caught up to the Fighter Mafia guys arguments.


Mark November 28, 2011 at 7:34 am

Should have known you were a tree hugger. I'm sure the communities around these joint military bases would collapse if the American's were to leave the UK. They provide a vital source of income to thousands.


Mastro November 30, 2011 at 11:38 am

Wheelus was a great base- certainly don't have to worry about flying into a tree.

I doubt the Libyans want a huge US presence any time soon. Major political headaches.


PMI November 29, 2011 at 12:20 am

I don't see anything in that post that screams 'tree hugger'.


blight November 29, 2011 at 7:58 am

I hug American trees, not British ones.


PMI November 29, 2011 at 12:23 am

The same would hold true for the F/A-18E.


tiger November 29, 2011 at 7:13 am

Buying American comes with political baggage. Same reason India passed on the Hornet.


Papi1960R January 22, 2012 at 10:28 pm

Since the new government of Libya flies a al-Queda flag on its capital I feel that President Obama has achieved his objectives in the Arab Spring. Accordingly, a invite back to Wheelus AFB(where I was born) is probaly not going to happen.


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