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The Smart Fighter

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​​"Everything is designed and tested in the computer. This helps us know what to do and how to do. It gives us the confidence that we work with the right things and we know we are on track without any surprises," says Matti Olsson, Head of Strategic & Business Development Production at Saab.

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Having a large amount of information in the aircraft computer is of no use if it is too hard for the pilot to understand. In Gripen, a great deal of effort is focused on presenting the situation clearly and understandably, ensuring that the Gripen pilot always has superior situational awareness. 

The information is presented in an advanced fully digital cockpit layout with three large colour, Multi-Functional Displays (MFD) and in the head-up display (HUD). The information from all sensors are displayed in order to get the pilot an easy to understand overview of all available information to help him to take the right decisions. 

This combine with a Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick (HOTAS) command, giving direct access to all needed functions (fly command and system command), the pilot can perform his work with a superior combat advantage.

Sensor Fusion and presentation summing up:

  •  Information from all systems and sensors are melted together into one single picture
  •  An easy to understand picture is presented to the pilot through
  •  Colour displays
  •  Helmet mounted displays
  •  Clear and unambiguous symbolic

​Last month, a Brazilian delegation flew to Sweden to meet Swedish leaders and Saab and to have a look at the Gripen factory in Linköping. Here are a few snapshots from the visit.

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Image Courtesy: Ministry of Defence / Jorge Cardoso​

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"With employees from virtually every part of Saab involved in the Gripen E project, the production of the new aircraft is fully underway, reports Defence Talk.

More than 30 major development suppliers have signed agreements with Saab to collaborate on the Gripen E development process.

“When it comes to the suppliers we work with, we expect them to believe in the project and so they must be prepared to make their own investments,” says Lars-Erik Svedlund, Programme Manager for Gripen E, adding that he is pleasantly surprised by the response. 

“It is great to know that only a few countries and companies in the world are capable of doing what we are doing right now,” says Svedlund.

Read the full story: Gripen E Production Is Fully Under Way​

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Gripen E’s customer value lies in the system’s unparalleled operational combat capacity, its balanced design and the fact that the aircraft is built for information sharing. 

Information sharing refers to Gripen pilots’ access to information, gathered and analysed within their own group, giving pilots on the ground access to the same information as their airborne colleagues have. 

Information sharing is an element of the ”information war” – determining where the enemy is while avoiding detection yourself. An increasing number of the world’s air forces have realised that having an information advantage is actually more important than having maximum speed and manoeuvrability. Sweden has a 40-year tradition of developing inter-aircraft information sharing – experience that is gathered in the Gripen E.

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Gripen E has a highly advanced Electronic Warfare (EW) system. The EW system can function as a passive sensor, working like a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) indicating if a radar is looking at you or MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System) indicating the approach of an missile. In an active mode the EW system can also actively jam the enemy radars, making the fighter disappear from radar screens or appearing in another location.

Coupled to the countermeasure such as chaff and flares the EW system can enhance the survivability.

Electronic warfare summing up

  •   Highly advanced integrated EW suite
  •   360 degrees coverage
  •   Can be passive or active
  •   Can be used for electronic attacks, jamming other radars
  •   Warning for incoming missiles
  •   Warning for radar looking at you

Read more: Gripen E Features At A Glance ​​

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An all-seeing eye in the sky: Thanks to infrared search & track technology (IRST), Gripen can track the movement of other objects in the sky using heat signals while remaining unnoticed. Here’s how it works. 

The IRST for Gripen E is produced by Selex in Scotland and called Skyward G. IRST stands for Infrared Search and Track and is an electro-optical system mounted in the nose of Gripen E. Its sensor sits on top of the nose, just in front of the canopy, and is looking forward in a wide sector registering heat emissions from other aircraft, helicopters and from objects on the ground and sea surface. The IRST is a passive sensor, meaning that it never emits any energy. It only listens for energy coming from other sources. The tactical advantage of a passive sensor is that it will not give your position away. Opponents will have no indication whatsoever that Gripen E is using its IRST to monitor their activities.

IRST Summing up:

  •   Totally passive – nobody knows you are looking
  •   Senses heat from aircraft, tanks, ships
  •   Range can be many times more than visual range
  •   Enables silent attacks

Read more:Gripen E features at a glance

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Saab could have started a new project from scratch and literally made a paper plane. Instead we opted to continue developing the proven Gripen concept.

“The demo programme showed that continued development was possible and that new requirements sought after by air forces could be met by evolving Gripen C/D; increasing the range, sensor performance, counter measures, communication and weapons load. At the same time, we could see that the aircraft’s performance could be improved and life cycle cost reduced,” says Ulf Nilsson, Head  of Gripen.

Read the full story here​.

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The radar for Gripen E is produced by Selex in Scotland and called ES-05 Raven. ES-05 is an AESA radar, which is state of the art for new fighters nowadays. AESA stands for Active Electronically Scanned Array and means that, in contrast to older generation radars, it has not only one antenna but a full array of small antennas, called elements.

Tactical advantages 

This means that the radar can simultaneously and independently track different targets, and also track targets independently of search volumes. The ability to control the elements separately and the high speed re-direction give Gripen a significant tactical advantage.

Radar summing up

  •  Electronic array gives immediate re-direction
  •  1000 antenna elements give redundancy
  •  Individual channels give multi-tasking
  •  Rotating swashplate gives 200 degrees field of regard
  •  Tactical advantage

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In order to explain why Gripen is the smart fighter system, let us present what a modern multirole-fighter need to perform. A fighter mission can be compared to large scale chess games, where the fighter allows you to get the right situation awareness in order to communicate the right information to take the adequate decision. The same analogy to chess games applies regardless if the mission to perform is air-to-air, reconnaissance or air-to-ground.  In all the case the fighter needs the following:

Information

Movements

Weapons

Information is obtained by the usage of the sensors and the possibility to communicate with other units, the fighter is integrated in a network of communications.

The performance of the fighter allows the aircraft to have the right movement dependent on the situation provided to him from its own sensors or other sensors from other units (land, sea or air).

In order to participate in an active role in the check game a modern multi role fighter needs to be a balanced design between, performance, sensors, communication, weapons carriage, countermeasure, stealth and cost among other criteria.  Cost has always been a design parameter and Saab’s engineers are asked to maximise performance at a given cost, not just to maximise performance freely.

The Gripen E fighter is equipped with the latest available technics in those keys areas, such as:

Selex ES-05 Raven AESA radar

Selex Skyward G IRST sensor

Electronic warfare system MFS-EW

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Welcome to the official Gripen blog by Saab. This site features information and commentary about the Gripen fighter jet. 

The Gripen Blog shares stories and discussions on the Gripen aircraft. The Blog does not vouch for the authenticity of the reports from other publications that have been quoted. 

The reference to articles and news reports does not imply endorsement or validation of the views of the authors of the stories.


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