Ronneby Air Show, Sweden

29 August 2004



2004's air show staged by the Swedish Air Force was held at Ronneby Air Base. Situated in the south-east of the country,. this base overlooks the Baltic and during the Cold War was of Sweden's most important fighter bases. The base houses F17, also known as the Blekinge Flygflottilj (Wing) which now operates the SAAB JAS-39 Gripen. This type supplanted the previous SAAB fighter, the JA-37 Viggen only  the year before. F17 was established in 1944 and undertook the bombing role with such types as the B-3 (Junkers 86) and SAAB B-18 until settling into the anti shipping role in the late 1950's, flying the SAAB A-32A Lansen. An example of this type, 32151/B, has been preserved near the base gate as a momento to those days. 

Although being small affairs to many people's standards, Swedish Air Force shows have their own appeal through the typically Swedish aircraft and paint schemes to be seen. 


Ronneby's static was a very difficult affair for photographers, just like it had been in previous occasions in 1984 and 1994. Aircraft were tightly packed and equally tightly roped in. However, the photographers were offered a very good place to take pictures along the taxyway.

39132, one of F17's JAS-39A Gripen fighters, unusually features an anniversary paint scheme. The Swedish Air Force, Flygvapnet, is not renowned for it's lavish paint schemes. Nevertheless this Gripen received a tail mark celebrating 60 years of F17. It is rumoured that this infuriated the Flygpvapnet's officialdom. 

Another Gripen seen at Ronneby was 39121/21. This aircraft was still in the markings with which Gripens were delivered first in 1995-1996. Nowadays, the black radome has turned gray with the last three of the serial in dark grey on the fin, instead of the last two in dayglo as in this picture. Note that the jet wears the wing code of Såtenäs´s F7.

Only 10 years ago the backbone of the Swedish Air Force and now almost a memory, the SAAB JA-37 Viggen. This modernized JA-37DI belongs to Ostersund´s F4 wing. This unit is the last to operate the fighter version of the Viggen and will cease flying during 2005. 37413/13 can be seen here being towed pilotless along the taxyway. It can only be hoped that funds to maintain a Viggen in flying condition can be found somewhere.

This is something that did succeed in the case of the SAAB J-32B Lansen. In this image, J-32B 32606/06 in the markings of long/disbanded fighterwing F1 has been caught during it´s display at Ronneby. Note the absence of the bulged radome under the fuselage of the J-32B fighter. Ronneby´s gate guard on the other hand displayed on the top of this page is an A-32A attack variant with the navigation and attack radar clearly visible.

Foreign participation, in the past mostly absent, nowadays includes fighters from other West-European countries. Apart from this French Air Force Mirage 2000RDI  19/5-OX from EC 2/5 at Orange, the flying display included a Dutch F-16 and a Swiss F/A-18. 

As indicated earlier, special colour schemes are quite rare in Sweden. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see this Sk-60A 60088/88 from the Air Force's Flying School. For years, this unit formed F5 wing at Ljungbyhed until this base closed some years ago. Then, F10 at Angelholm took over. However, F10 is history now as well. Nowadays, the Flying School is part of Ronneby´s F17 but is based at Malmen near Linköping. It has been flying the Sk-60 now since 1965. It´s colour scheme does not give direct clues as to the reason of this paint job.

A very welcome sight at Ronneby was the only CASA 212 in Swedish military service. The civil Coast Guard do have a few, but 89001/891 is the only one in military service and is known as SH-89 in Flygvapnet service. Flying with 5. HkpSkv  (Helicopter Squadron) at Säve near Goteborg, the aircraft is tasked with coastal patrol.

Helicopters on show included those from Ronneby´s 2. HkpSkv among others. One of the unit´s Vertol Hkp-4B Search and Rescue machines, 04069/69, is seen here hovering over it´s landing spot following the helicopter´s display which included an old joke. An old car, said to have been parked where it shouldn´t have, was picked up as underslung cargo and `accidentally` dropped.

The HKP-4B is of course in many ways equal to the US Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight.

A relatively new addition to the military´s helicopter fleet is the Agusta AB.412. Procured as an ambulance for the more remote parts of Sweden, it was given the designation Hkp-11. 11332/32 was seen here at Ronneby´s flight line prior to the start of the flying display.

Concluding; Ronneby had some fine weather during this year´s air show. A cloud front appeared too late to spoil the party. The photographer´s spot along the taxiway was a very good one and the walking tour along the flight line was quite well organised and very welcome. Photography on the flight line however was a bit hampered by the guard houses which have been built near each individual parking spot. The static show, although including such things as a Greek Air Force EriEye equipped EMBRAER ERJ.145 could have done with a more thought out lay-out. Now, it was quite difficult to get clean shots of the exhibits. 

Nevertheless, the balance is still positive! Compliments to the PR department for organising the Spotters Tour and of course the free refreshments.

Let's see what 2005's Såtenäs Air Show brings.



All pictures (c) Hans Rolink