A team of Air Force and armasuisse specialists undertook, from 2 to 4 May 2012, in Linköping, Sweden, a series of test flights on the Gripen F demonstrator. The four flights, carried out on a two-seat aircraft, were used to verify previous evaluations of the Gripen E/F, and to reduce the risks associated with the development of the aircraft. All these test flights could be completed as intended.
LINKOPING, Sweden --- With the Federal Council’s decision of 30 November 2011 concerning the choice of aircraft, a major milestone was reached in the acquisition of new fighter planes for Swiss Air Force.
Following this decision, the [Ministry of Defence, DDPS] has been tasked by the Federal Council with the preparation of the acquisition of the Gripen.
Within the DDPS, this task is assigned to an integrated project team (IPT) led by armasuisse, and comprising representatives of the Air Force and other DDPS departments.
In parallel to ongoing negotiations with the Swedish government concerning the optimization of the procurement process, further technical discussions are taking place intensively between partners in Sweden and Switzerland.
Sweden and Switzerland plan to complete the technical details of their coordinated acquisition of Gripen by the end of second quarter of 2012.
Status of the acquisition process
The IPT is closely monitoring the progress of the project with industry, as is customary in complex acquisitions projects.
Monitoring this progress allows not only the oversight and verification of the Gripen E/F performance, but also the reduction of the risks associated with the further development of the Gripen C/D to the more advanced E/F version.
In this context, the first test flights have now been held with the Gripen F demonstrator belonging to the manufacturer, Saab, in Sweden.
A small team of pilots and flight test engineers from the Swiss Air Force and armasuisse have carried out a series of test flights, in close collaboration with the manufacturer.
Program and test flights
The evaluation program, which took place over three days, included work on the training simulator as well as real "test flights".
During the first day, the two pilots refreshed their knowledge of the Gripen in the simulator, and especially familiarized themselves with the new capabilities of the Gripen F demonstrator.
During the following two days flights were carried out to verify the evaluation of the Gripen E/F and to reduce the risks associated with the planned purchase.
To ensure that the tests were as realistic as possible, they were executed on the basis of various operational scenarios which correspond to what could be required of the aircraft in Switzerland.
They each featured two aircraft with mission profiles for air defense and air police roles. Missions were flown with different weapon configurations and with the support of target aircraft.
All missions were flown from Saab’s base at Linköping in Sweden.
The various test flights took place mainly over the Baltic Sea, at an altitude between sea level and 12,000 meters. All test flights have been performed successfully.
Gripen F Demonstrator
The Gripen F demonstrator F, tested by the Swiss pilots in Sweden, is an intermediate model between the Gripen C/D and the Gripen E/F.
This two-seater is a derivative of the Gripen D, and made its first flight May 27, 2008. It has since logged over 200 flight hours. This demonstrator provides a platform for testing subsystems to be installed in the Gripen E/F.
The Gripen F Demonstrator F is powered by a General Electric F414G engine.
It is equipped with a larger internal fuel tank, some cockpit components of the new avionics suite, and two additional weapon stations under the fuselage. In addition, its landing gear was repositioned.
Differences between the Gripen C/D and the Gripen E/F
The main differences between the Gripen E/F that Switzerland has chosen to acquire and the Gripen C/D tested in 2008 are:
- More powerful engine;
- Increased internal fuel capacity;
- New Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar at the forefront of technology;
- Infrared scan and track (IRST) passive sensor;
- New cockpit avionics;
- New electronic warfare system;
- Two additional weapon stations;
- New landing gear.
During the summer of 2012 Saab, the manufacturer, will fit the new AESA radar to the aircraft and carry out tests. Subsequent verification by the Swiss team is planned for the second half of this year. (ends)