From 10 to 13 December 2012, a team of ministry of defence specialists has successfully completed flight tests of the new Gripen F Demonstrator at Linköping, Sweden.
Two flights in the two-seat aircraft were intended as a risk-reduction measure, in the context of the further development of Gripen.
As is usual during complex acquisitions, project progress by industry is closely monitored by an interdisciplinary project team.
The support of the work aimed at reducing risk in the development of the existing Gripen C/D aircraft into the upgraded Gripen E/F.
As was already the case in early May 2012, during the first series of test flights in Sweden, a Swiss flight test team led by the armasuisse defence procurement agency visited the facilities of manufacturer Saab in Linköping from Dec. 10-13.
This small team, comprising pilots and a flight test engineer, carried out in close collaboration with the aircraft manufacturer, Saab, and the manufacturer of the radar, Selex Galileo of Great Britain, two flights in the Gripen F demonstrator equipped with an AESA radar.
The radar fitted to the demonstrator is a test version employing the latest AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) technology.
The four-day program was focused on testing the test radar’s integration into the Gripen F demonstrator, and primarily allowed verification of the following features:
- Radar cooling
- Electrical power supply; and
- Data exchange between the radar and the mission computer.
The first day was mainly devoted to the preparation of flights with the different partners. Both flights took place on the second and third days, while the fourth and final day was devoted to the analysis of the results and the determination of the sequence of future activities.
Data recorded by the aircraft during both flights, and simultaneously transmitted in real time through a protected connection, will now be used by Saab and Selex Galileo, the manufacturer of the AESA raersion dar, for further development.
In 2013 and 2014, the prototype of the new AESA radar will be tested further by the industrial partners (both in the laboratory and in flight). The Swiss test team will continue to closely monitor the development program.
Gripen F Demonstrator
The Gripen F demonstrator which Swiss pilots flew in Sweden is an intermediate version between the Gripen C/D now in service and the future Gripen E.
This two-seater demonstrator, derived from a modified Gripen D airframe, made its first flight on May 27, 2008, and since then has accumulated over 250 flight hours. The demonstrator is a platform for testing subsystems of the Gripen E/F.
The Gripen F demonstrator is powered by a General Electric F414G engine.
It is fitted with internal fuel tanks of greater capacity, part of the new avionics suite (in the cockpit), two additional under-fuselage weapon hard-points and a new main landing gear.
Differences between the Gripen C/D and Gripen E
The main differences between the Gripen D flight-tested by Switzerland in 2008, and the Gripen E which Switzerland now plans to procure, are:
- More powerful engine
- Greater payload and internal fuel capacity
- Two additional under-fuselage hand-points
- New landing gear
- New radar employing the latest AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) technology.
- Passive Infrared search and tracking sensor
- New avionics, including a new cockpit
- New electronic warfare (EW) suite.
Since the decision of the Federal Council on November 30, 2011 to acquire the Gripen E as the new fighter aircraft of the Swiss Air Force, the DDPS’ Gripen team has successfully passed a series of milestones on the Gripen acquisition process.
Since the signature of the statement of intent regarding the intensification of cooperation between the Ministry of Defence of the Kingdom of Sweden and the DDPS in the field of security policy and defense, on June 29, 2012, and the August 24, 2012 signature of the related Framework Agreement, the Federal Council on November 14, 2012 approved a message to Parliament on the acquisition of Gripen and its financing. (ends)