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US fuel stops Gripen Libya mission

TT/The Local/pvs · 7 Apr 2011, 07:55

Published: 07 Apr 2011 07:55 GMT+02:00

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The eight fighter jets are located in the US part of the Sigonella airbase on Sicily and the only fuel available it that which is used for US navy aircraft.

The Gripen were due to participate in their first mission over Libya on Thursday but this has now been delayed and test flights have been postponed.

According to the outline plan, the eight aircraft were all due to monitor the UN no-fly zone over the civil-war torn country from Thursday but on arrival at the base they discovered that no fuel was available.

The Sigonella base is designed as a naval air force base, lieutenant colonal Mats Brindsjö, head of the Swedish Air Operation Center, said.

"And US navy aircraft use somewhat different fuel to that which we use in our planes," he told the TT news agency.

The US fuel variety is known as JP5 while the Gripen normally fly using a civil fuel known as Jet A1.

"Certain additives and some equipment are needed to change JP5 to Jet A1 in a controlled manner. This equipment is not as yet in place down there and in the time being we are trying to buy the fuel from a place off the base."

"This really should have been investigated as soon as we arrived, but we didn't have time with all the other details," Mats Brindsjö said, adding that he expects the Gripen aircraft to be in the air on Friday.

The Swedish aircraft will undergo a test flight in order to familiarize themselves with the airspace before NATO authorities are informed that the Gripen stand at the ready.

Sweden is not a member of NATO, although it has been in NATO's

Partnership for Peace programme since 1994 and has contributed some 500 troops to the alliance's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) force in


Sweden also took part in operations in Kosovo.

Nevertheless Sweden's air force has not been involved in action since it

Story continues below…

took part in a UN-mandated operation in the then Belgian Congo from 1961-63.

The Libyan operation will be the first combat tour for the JAS Gripen 39,

produced by the Swedish defence group Saab.

Sweden's Nordic neighbours Denmark and Norway are already taking part in

Libyan air operations.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

08:39 April 7, 2011 by StockholmSam
Wow, somebody in the Swedish Air Force really dropped the ball on this one. How in the world do you prepare to send a fighting force into hostile territory and fail to check the supply lines of fuel? Quite embarrassing for Sweden and it cannot be chalked up to their lack of experience in battle; it is simple project management, really and Sweden has plenty of experience with project management as evidenced by their position as a leading economy in Europe. Poor, poor showing.
09:08 April 7, 2011 by sunnchilde
Oh COME ON people! Are you kidding me!? NOBODY thought of this before they sent those planes down there!?!?!? REALLY? Nobody?! Maybe Sweden needs a war at home, because evidentially they have forgotten how to fight one.

Are you listening? You deploy a fighting force and you supply them. Did you....not know that? Did you remember to bring your missiles? Extra ammo for the guns?

DID YOU!? Cause evidentially---I can't just assume that. How about the pilots? Has somebody worked out where they're going to sleep at night? Have they?
09:22 April 7, 2011 by Scott McCoy
My god,Swedes are stupid.
09:37 April 7, 2011 by Rebel
Seems like the government had a really bad "blonde moment."
09:43 April 7, 2011 by Keith #5083
Maybe the fact that Jet A1 is widely available in the world (being used extensively for civilian aircraft) - except in the USA, has something to do with it.

It's maybe not as stupid as it first appears - and certainly makes the point for prospective Grippen purchasers (excluding Norway of course). Buy a USA fighter jet and you need non-standard fuel.

The Swedes can send down the road to the nearest civilian airport - in Sicily - for the fuel, where do the Americans get their JP5?
09:55 April 7, 2011 by aaww
"in the time being we are trying to buy the fuel from a place off the base"

are they even considering buying gas from a local Agip gas station?

this is really stupid
10:08 April 7, 2011 by skatty
@keith #5083

You have right, but in military operations, logistic is very important and there are check points, which must be done before any operation. Fuel is absolute one of the most important matter to check, it's impossible to miss it, just a super stupid might miss it!
10:17 April 7, 2011 by blursd
I can just see it now ...

Swedish Pilot: "Hej, can we have some fuel for our planes please?"

American Pilot: "Yah, this stuff won't work on your planes."

Swedish Pilot: "But you seem to have a whole bunch of it, and you're fueling up your planes with it."

American Pilot: "Yah, thaaaaats because this stuff only works on English speaking planes ... yah, that's it ... only English speaking planes. You can probably ask the Italians if you can borrow some of their fuel."
10:21 April 7, 2011 by rybo1
Good! Maybe this will keep Sweden from being a vassal of Amerika and nasty NATO. Stay neutral and independent.
10:36 April 7, 2011 by comentatir
Desperate for some advertisement! I cant imagine the papers after they fly with those over Libya. Yet another success for Swedish war industry!
10:52 April 7, 2011 by Nemesis
In plain language, no fuel so don't have to get involved due to a contrived mix up.

@ blursd,

That is exactly what I thought, as I was first reading the story :)

@ rybo1,

Sweden never has been, is not now and never will be independant.
10:52 April 7, 2011 by Rishonim
This is no mistake. Swedish airforce new exactly what they were doing. Sending the planes without fuel is an excuse to not get into combat. This is not like a game of counter strike where NIP (ninjas in pajamas) were the best team. This is for real. Sweden should stick to selling planes and armaments to gerrillas and leave the fighting to the experts.
11:21 April 7, 2011 by Boyfriend
The fact is the countries whom make Jefighters actually display their products.

US simply does not want Libyan to see Swedish Product performance .

People are dying in the Land and they are up on the sky, this is stupid, they are doing marketing of their Jetfighters so later they can sell it to Libyan opposition as the opposition started selling OIL .In this critical time they started selling oil.

Callback the Swedish Jetfighters! There is no market for Swedish Products there.

Stay natural! this is the best for Sweden. There many other ways to sell weapons.
11:33 April 7, 2011 by johnny1939
Jeeez how do we get fuel to go home????
11:40 April 7, 2011 by Boyfriend
LOL Johnny1939 , US wants Swedish Pilots to take some Sun and vacation there.
12:21 April 7, 2011 by mojofat
Enemies of the free world must be shaking in their boots now.

These guys must be the laughingstock on that airforce base right now...
13:10 April 7, 2011 by saraswed
seems everyone here are criers.we shout about every single thing and complain.what have you all done to fix it.cry babies sit up and do something and not always complain period
13:31 April 7, 2011 by foordranata

Why does it seem to me that the Swedish campaingn is more a case of shining the buttons of generals´ limunad-kläder?

I´m sure there´s a hundred different ways to get killed in a mission than flying around doing practically nothing.

I mean: Is a fighter-jet used as a poster for the camera?

With every piece of flying things from all over, it must be a logistical nightmare and I´m sure the flight controll has got it´s hands full for sure.

And...with those millions wasted on fuel and logistics would buy a heck of a lot of ground forces for the aftermath.
13:34 April 7, 2011 by fireball1
The Grippen is powered by the Volvo Aero RM12 engine which is a derivitive of the General Electric F404, F412, and RM12 afterburning turbofan engines in the 10,500-19,000 lbf (85 kN) class (static thrust). It's an American engine so why the different fuel requirement?
14:17 April 7, 2011 by swedejane

I'm curious what your propose people do. Siphon fuel off into gallon jugs and fedex them to Italy? Supposedly, there are trained military professionals who are supposed to do this, and I find it hard to believe that they were in such a rush they couldn't handle everything. They waited around 4 weeks before getting involved, but even the high level discussions between Sweden's military and NATO were reported in the news.

Hope to god nobody ever decides to attack Sweden as it sounds like the military would need months just to feel ready enough to respond. Is "military" even the right word? Sounds more like a hobby for these guys.
14:19 April 7, 2011 by skatty
I think some people miss the point in here with their comments. A developed country like Sweden has decided to have a military cooperation with NATO and send its fighters to Libya, even though in my opinion the aim has been to demonstrate JAS fighters to find customer. Any way, it cost money to send the fighters to Libya and I thing Sweden pay for it not NATO.

Now, the Swedish authorities send their fighters without even considering if JAS can fly in Libya and the kind fuel necessary for the operation. It's not a question of what kind of motors the fighters have, or if Americans are doing something tricky about JAS. A developed country (Sweden), which cut the budget at home because there is no money, send its fighter for advertisement and marketing its weapons, but forget to check if the weapons can function properly at the military bases!

Is it not stupid?
14:26 April 7, 2011 by saraswed

i propose you can still join the military if you are within the age limit or support them,currently they are recruiting its a chance to make things right i guess.lets wish this people good for once.what happened to humour.
15:09 April 7, 2011 by Nilspet
@swedejane and skatty

I agree with you!


Do you know the difference between professionals and amatuer?
15:12 April 7, 2011 by Rick Methven
JP5 is US & NATO military fuel specification.

Jet A-1 is the fuel that is used by civil aircraft world wide.

JP5 is more volatile than Jet A-1.

The JAS is designed like the Viggen before it to use road bases

( you may have seen some wide stretches of straight road going through a forest with wide tracks going off into the woods)

and be able to re-fuel at any civil airport.

Sweden is not a member of NATO and therefore is not obliged to use the same more volatile fuel that NATO uses.

NATO wants Swedish help, then they should supply the fuel
16:01 April 7, 2011 by Nilspet
@Rick Methven

Still Swedish AF should have asked them (NATO or whoever Sweden is assigned to work with) prior to departure whether the base in Italy already has Jet A-1 available. After all Swedish AF has done lots of exercises with NATO for decades they should really know that their Gripen is not compatible with most of NATO flying machines. What if you need a mid-air refueling over Libya and only JP-5 is available in US or NATO tankers ... wouldn't the pilots be danger then? Of course Sweden has a C-130 tanker but it may not be enough for 8 planes under some circumstance....
16:41 April 7, 2011 by swedekk
#26, Nilspet, JAS 39-C Gripen is NATO compatible and even NATO countries use them (Czech Republic, Hungary).

Most Swedish made weapons are NATO compatible since NATO is a great market for export.
16:43 April 7, 2011 by Nilspet

I know about that but I was talking about the fuel for Gripen not their missiles or pods or anything like that. Even Gripen A/B have already been converted to be NATO compatible.

I think this is not about technological mismatch .. it is perhaps all about lack of experience?

But still Sweden has been involved in so many exercises with NATO forces .. how could this happen?
17:31 April 7, 2011 by Dogs_Gonads
JP5 is aircraft carrier based fuel. And has a higher flash point than Jet A1.


"The Sigonella base is designed as a naval air force base, lieutenant colonal Mats Brindsjö, head of the Swedish Air Operation Center, said."

The US Air force don't use this fuel either.Even if they use the same aircraft as the navy.
17:48 April 7, 2011 by bira
Sounds like some of you are somewhat missing how logistics in NATO actually works. If under NATO command then it is NATO's responsibility to supply fuel, weapons, and whatever else is needed for the sorties. Nations sending their aircraft or other equipment as aid to "the cause" do not typically also supply their own logistics teams. If NATO asks for help from the Swedish air-force, for example, it is NATO that supplies the fuel and I suppose in this instance it was the Allied Command Europe that screwed up. Since there currently is no NATO definition of multi-national logistics in these operations, it falls on NATOs logistics teams to sort these things out.
18:33 April 7, 2011 by skatty

You mean NATO has a supermarket, and countries send their aircraft and get what they want from the supermarket of NATO!

Even if what you say is true, according to the article in here, Sweden has been the only country, which couldn't find its fuel in the supermarket; probably they should pomp somewhere on the road, before landing in Sicily!
22:40 April 7, 2011 by rise
What is this??

According to Aftonbladet (Swedish) the JAS39 has already been on the first mission:


Sorry if I spoiled the fun..! :P
23:08 April 7, 2011 by Essjay
Shame really ,

The Swedish fighters could have joined in on the second massacre of Libyan rebels by NATO !!!!!!!

So there is a problem with fuel ok so what,s the xxxxing problem with super technological fighters targeting the wrong side !

We,ve seen it all before !

To all you Swedish basher,s what the hell are you doing here ???

Hate the country that much then go home !

Sorry to all you Tom Cruise wannabees but your exploits in Iraq and Afghanistan have been the last exploits of an Empire that never was !

And never will be !

China is laughing it,s head off at NATO , US dominated with Russia as a partner that has now decided to modernize it,s Military big time while Europe and the US spend billion and billions on wars that cause more problems than existed before !

Meanwhile China stays in defence ,advancing economically ,scientifically ,and miltaristically !!!!

Next on the moon the Chinese ,maybe on Russian rockets

They know where the next Empire lies !

Libya has the right to self determination , let the people of Libya make their history !
04:29 April 8, 2011 by repat_xpat
Eight jets. Wow. Sweden what a commitment! Maybe next time time you will plan your own logistics or use common fuel.
08:28 April 8, 2011 by rise
Sweden doesn't participate = whining.

Sweden does participate = whining.

"Maybe next time time you will plan your own logistics or use common fuel."

That's exactly what has been done. And the fuel used is the same as the civilian air fleets everywhere are using. The JAS39 is made for road bases... and you can get the fuel needed practically anywhere (which has also been the case now).

I don't know from were the local has gotten all of this?? But oh well, some hyenas have gotten a laugh anyway.

And the small number of eight planes? Well it's only the division from the small group called Nordic battegroup:

08:28 April 8, 2011 by isenhand
I see they managed to get the planes up at 18.43 on the 7th April.
19:15 April 8, 2011 by zeulf
@ rise so "the JAS is made for road bases..and you can get fuel practically anywhere." Well practically anywhere except for Italy and of course "someone else" is responsable for doing the Fuel Shopping cheers
19:47 April 8, 2011 by wenddiver
Welcome to the fog of war. Hopefully, we are all learning something from this.

If war came to Sweden there is really only one potential aggressor and that is Russia. If you were at war with Russia, only one country could realistically provide meaningful help, the US. The US response would come from air bases in Germany or the Fleet. That defence would primarily be air power, because it is the asset we could get in theater fastest. Sweden would have to be able to adjust it's 100 planes to our operations, because we can not possibly change our thousands of planes over quickly. Denmark and Norway"s Air forces are already set up to operate as eficiently as any US Squadron. Of course in the 1930s who in Norway or Denmark would have ben thinking they would be fighting Germany soon, war come quickly and without warning. History is littered with Empires and nations that no longer exist, because they failed to remember this fact. Troy, Persia, Imperial Russia, the Ottomans, Rome, Byzantium all failed to remember that military power is only as good as what you can do at the moment.

It's a matter of simple survival to be ready to assist friends who defend you. These small wars are great practice and realistically if your military hasn't been to war in five years it hasn't been to war.
22:19 April 8, 2011 by rise
@ zeulf

What you people, at least the ignorant ones, don't care about and the local doesn't seem to bother to write is that the JAS39 began flying at Thursday. The very same date as this article was written. But hey that isn't funny, is it.... Much funnier to deride and mock. And no, it isn't thanks to NATO they are flying. Anyway I find that Italian base rather peculiar... Doesn't seem to be much of a base, does it...
04:30 April 9, 2011 by volvoman9
Wendiver seems to have made the only salient point in this thread. This is war. We have developed much more efficient methods and tools to kill over the centuries but have made little progress in intellect.

Once again we have charged headlong into a conflict that is of no concern to us save the economic reasons. The majority of the western world has little concern for the suffering of the Arab world despite our protestations to the contrary. Even the speculation of petro shortages is unfounded and yet here we are.

We have no clear purpose other than the deposition of a tyrant. This end could have been achieved surgically at any juncture in the last four decades but the business of currying political favor for economic gain is a convoluted process. Better the devil you know.

There is no endgame here without total removal of the present regime by boots on the ground. Is it then any wonder that silly snafus like this occur?This is only the beginning of an enormous debacle.
10:14 April 9, 2011 by Keith #5083
One of the best selling points i.e. universally available fuel as against specialised fuel for other manufacturers, has been made to potential purchasers at the cost of some red faces on this comment board.

I am so surprised that the 'anti-gov' lobby can only read 'stupidity' into these Machiavellian manoeuvres, but then subtlety was never one of their strong points!. Folks are so busy loading political points onto this subject that they overlook the obvious.

07-55 am - No Fuel. 18-42, same day, planes had already flown their first mission.And as Rick Methven points out #25, perhaps the logistical responsibility for fuel was Nato's!
10:39 April 9, 2011 by Rick Methven

"07-55 am - No Fuel. 18-42, same day, planes had already flown their first mission.And as Rick Methven points out #25, perhaps the logistical responsibility for fuel was Nato's! "

True but there again some posters will never let logic or the truth get in the way of a good knocking Sweden session
16:02 April 9, 2011 by jonesanf
Those are very fine aircraft. I'd be please to have our government (Canada) purchase them instead of the F-35. Maybe the Libyan operation will prove their worth. They'll be flying next to Canadian F-18's.
18:46 April 9, 2011 by zeulf
Hej rise the point of going down there is to help the Libyan people. to actually help them one needs to be prepared not just talk big. talk is cheap

what can You tell us about the Italian Airbase that you find peculial?
19:33 April 9, 2011 by rise
"to actually help them one needs to be prepared not just talk big. talk is cheap"

Yes talk is cheap. Record yourself with a microphone and then listen to yourself.
19:39 April 9, 2011 by Rebel
the war protesters generally shout, "No war for oil!" but in this case the dumb Swedes shout, "No oil for war!"
00:29 April 10, 2011 by waffen
"Much ado about nothing," and there are far fewer actual veterans commenting here than those who come on this blog primarily to bash Sweden.

Stating that the "Swedes are stupid, " e.g. both shows your lack of understanding of military logistics and highlights your own ignorance.

Both the blog and Sweden could do very well without you.
02:56 April 10, 2011 by Thebinary1
It could be worse you know.

I mean they could have actually proceed to fill up the jets with the wrong fuel .... tried firing it up without success .... then looking at each other with a W-T-F look on their faces :D
06:09 April 10, 2011 by wenddiver
Good luck pilots! Now that you are on your way, show them what the Swedish Air Force can do, best of luck from the US.

Lucky Strike and everybody come home safe.
18:06 April 10, 2011 by tomas R

If SAAB JAS 39 GRIPPEN is for peaceful mission in Libya it is good!

It is good aircraft like all SAAB. I am for peaceful world, for peaceful life.

Tomas (Lithuania)
08:22 April 11, 2011 by wenddiver
Hopefully, the local will have some positive articles, about the Swedish Air Force, once they get into action.
13:44 April 11, 2011 by foordranata
It still makes no sense to me. Why send a couple of aircrafts all the way from up north with hellish cost to taxpayers?

I´m all for overthrowing Gaddafi and his regime, but by which means this is done, should be debated. Nobody even knows with a 100% certainty, who to support & who to ignore.

Seems like a very expensive military "exercise" in a place with actual and REAL war conditions.

Usually swedes "diskuterar" everything for months until the mental health of opposing side is driven to the brink of insanity.

Why the sudden change?

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