Saab, the Swedish Armed Forces, and the Swedish Defence Material Administration (FMV) share a long history of co-operation. In the development of Gripen E, this co-operation is being further enhanced, as the three organisations are now carrying out joint validation and verification of the combat aircraft system.
In the development of earlier versions of Gripen, validation and verification was generally carried out consecutively. To perform joint verification in which the three parties participate from the outset results in greater sophistication and efficiency in operations. The number of repeat tests is reduced and any measures that need to be implemented are recognised earlier.
- I am very happy over the enhanced co-operation between Saab, FMV and the Swedish Armed Forces. I believe this is the key to success and for delivery in time and in line with what is agreed with the customer. We will continue to develop and strengthen our co-operation for further efficiency in the programme, says Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab business area Aeronautics.
Sweden's most important industrial project?
"Joint testing affords us an opportunity to collaborate with industry at an even earlier stage of development. This reduces the risk of late and expensive reworking in the development programme. Moreover, this is perhaps Sweden's largest and most important industrial project, and it's at the cutting-edge of technology. And for this reason it is, of course, also very exciting to be a part of this," says Niklas Englund, Project Manager at FMV Test & Evaluation.
Validation confirms whether we have built the correct product, i.e. it shows that the aircraft is operationally viable and capable of the intended functions, whereas verification confirms whether the product is correctly built – that the requirements have been fulfilled. At the start of the joint process to confirm the above, each party specifies what it needs to test. These test requirements are subsequently compared and a joint requirement is formulated.
Optimal use of resources in Swedish aviation
"This means that duplicated or highly similar tests are eliminated, and we end up with a reduced number of tests compared to before. Time and money is saved in a consolidated programme, and quality is increased when both the customer and the user are involved at an early stage. Simply put, we make optimal use of the resources existing in Swedish aviation and aerospace," says Johan Gingberg, the person responsible for joint validation and verification at Saab’s Flight Test department.
The joint test requirement culminates in a joint test requirement specification, which serves as the basis for resource assessment, for example how many sessions that need be undertaken. It also constitutes input data for a flight test programme. This programme will then govern the execution as well as final reporting.
"We always work in integrated teams made up of representatives from all three organisations. The joint test requirement is formulated in what we refer to as Coordination Teams, and, during the actual execution of the tests, it is the Integrated Test Teams (ITT) that work together," says Johan.
So far, ten ITTs have been established in the areas of radar, IRST, decision support, aerial refuelling, Mission Support System (MSS), pilot equipment/emergency systems, Electronic Warfare (EW), weapons, and operation and maintenance. For the last few years, a pilot, test engineers and technicians from FMV have participated on-site at Saab.
Three organisations working towards the same goal
The results collected during the tests are analysed and then shared between the three organisations with the further development of the aircraft, such as the systems development department.
"We have several systems that are being integrated and tested at the moment, including tactical systems in different Gripen E test aircraft, including the new cockpit for Gripen E. We are in an increasingly busy testing period, and the feedback we receive from the tests is invaluable for the continued development and completion of the systems.
Joint validation and verification are prerequisites for us to succeed together in sustaining the high pace in the testing. Having three organisations working towards the same goal – delivering what the end customer wants – is an incredible strength," says Karin Brinkebäck project leader, Gripen E Systems Development at Saab.