For a technician to become certified to work on Gripen C/Ds, long theoretical and practical training is required, divided into two phases. During the first six months, a theoretical course is taken at the Armed Forces Technical School in Halmstad.
This is then followed up with a practical phase at an operational Gripen squadron. The Swedish Armed Forces F 17 Wing in Ronneby is responsible for the practical training of 10 of the first 20 Thai technicians.
The practical phase is called OJT (On the Job Training) and follows a plan that covers all the various Gripen material groups, such as fuselage, control system, hydraulic system, fuel system and engine.
During the practical phase, Swedish and Thai personnel work side by side due to the personnel in training not being authorized to perform work without a Swedish instructor.
Receiving training in Sweden has been a challenge for the Thai technicians.
“The transition has been considerable for them,” says technician John Lindén, who is one of the Swedish Gripen instructors at F 17 in Ronneby. “They first have to adapt to our climate and interact in our culture, and on top of this, they have to learn a new and advanced aviation system.”
“The majority of the practical phase at F 17 is now finished. The results have been good and we’ll now give them more experience so that they can work with Gripen on their own when the first delivery arrives in Thailand at the beginning of next year.”
A Swedish support group is already on site in Thailand at the new Gripen base, Surat Thani. The group consists of experienced Swedish technicians and pilots, who will support the Thai Royal Air Force’s personnel for two years with their knowledge of the Gripen system.