A major milestone for the Saab British Aerospace Gripen multi-role combat aircraft has been reached with the first air-to-air refueling flight trials in early November.
Five flights have been carried out from British Aerospace''s Warton site in the UK, which is close to the designated Irish Sea Air-to-Air Refueling Area. Managed by a joint team of Saab and British Aerospace engineers, the sorties were flown by British Aerospace Chief Test Pilot Paul Hopkins and Saab Test Pilots Ola Rignell and Magnus Ljungdahl. The Gripen test aircraft linked with an RAF VC1O tanker with a crew from DERA (the UK''s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency).
A key element for Gripen on the export market is the introduction of an air-to-air refueling capability, developed jointly by Saab, British Aerospace and Flight Refueling Ltd. The first stage in providing this capability was the design, manufacture and clearance for flight testing of a mock-up probe to establish the viability of the design.
These first trials, with the mock-up probe, were designed to determine the behavior of the tanker''s drogue in the vicinity of the probe and the handling qualities of the Gripen aircraft.
The trials also confirmed the expected behavior of the aircraft''s flight control system. Further work will now take place to optimize the Gripen''s air-to-air refueling system for inclusion on export aircraft. Export Gripen director, Tony Arksey described the trials as an important development in the Gripen program. "The success of the trials are important not just for the aircraft but for the combined Saab and BAe multi-discipline team that has managed these trials and the joint venture as a whole. "The success of these first air-to-air refueling trials has underlined Gripen''s excellent handling qualities at all speeds and altitudes and confirmed the suitability of the aircraft''s flight control system for such operations," he said.
The development of air-to-air refueling capability and provision of an on board oxygen generation system for Gripen in international markets, further extends the aircraft''s competitive payload and range performance.
Incorporating the latest advances in aerodynamics, materials and engine technology, Gripen can perform a wide variety of operational missions and is equipped to carry an extensive range of both air-to-air and air-to-surface weaponry. It has both day and night attack capabilities through cockpit adaptation for use with night vision goggles and provision for a forward-looking infra-red pod and optional terrain reference navigation system.
A two seat version of Gripen, which retains the full operational capability of the single-seater, is also available for type conversion, tactical weapons training and more specialized combat missions.
With the support of the Governments of Sweden and the United Kingdom Saab and British Aerospace are partners in marketing, adapting, manufacturing and supporting export variants of the Gripen multi-role fighter.
Since forming this joint venture in mid-1995 significant effort has gone into establishing a standard of aircraft best suited to the export market. Sales and Marketing, Operational Analysis and Engineering Teams analyzed customer and competitor information, the result of which was the development of the export Gripen that is now offered as the future defense solution in countries all over the world.
To date, 204 Gripen aircraft have been ordered for the Swedish Air Force, including 28 two-seaters.
More than 60 have been delivered so far.
For further information please contact:
Jan Ahlgren, Vice President Communications and Public Affairs (Saab)
tel. +46-13-18 39 07
+46-70 518 39 07 (mobile)
Locksley Ryan, Director Corporate Communications (British Aerospace)
+44-1252 373 836
Linden Birns, (PR Consultant, Plane talking)
+27-21 789 29 77 (office)
082 568 8031 (mobile)