Saab’s Gripen E programme continues to make progress. The Gripen aircraft with designation 39-8 has conducted a number of successful flights carrying external stores, including pylons from the Swiss company RUAG Aerostructures.
Saab’s head of business area Aeronautics, Jonas Hjelm, laid out how the next two Gripen E aircraft for the flight test programme are benefiting from key design decisions.
“Today’s threats are not tomorrow’s and modern fighters could be viewed as a network of flying supercomputers seeking to outperform their opponents. So we designed Gripen’s smart architecture to ensure that we can introduce the latest powerful computers and other hardware swiftly and simply which is unmatched in this industry. We have the double advantage of being both the newest aircraft and able to effortlessly leap ahead as processing power advances. The pilot flying Gripen E will therefore have an undeniable edge.”
The two aircraft (known as 39-9 and 39-10) benefited by having new and upgraded computers rapidly added to them, further improving the capabilities from the first aircraft, 39-8. A critical factor was that this could be done without affecting the flight critical systems and so was completed in days and weeks, rather than in months and years as is typical in fighters. It means Gripen E can be at the forefront of air combat for decades as new features or technologies demand every greater processing power.
Jonas Hjelm also revealed that during July, Gripen E has undertaken its first flight equipped with an IRIS-T air to air missile on each wingtip, and four pylons under the wings and the centre pylon on the fuselage.
The flight included several test maneuvers at supersonic speed. This took place over the Baltic Sea and paves the way for future trials involving carriage and release of missiles, drop tanks and other external stores.
Gripen E is an international programme and there has been progress with the design of Gripen F, the two-seat version. This is being designed with Embraer in Brazil and can be used for training, Combat Readiness training, Combat Missions and Electronic Warfare Officer, Mission Commander and Weapon System Officer in the rear seat. Additional highlights have been further deliveries around key hardware such as the Wide Area Display being led by the Brazilian company AEL Aeker. Gripen E is being developed for the Swedish Air Force whilst the Brazilian Air Force will receive both Gripen E and F.
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