Able to supercruise, and equipped with a weapons system that is more flexible than ever before, the Gripen E has much to recommend it. It has an enviable 10-minute operational turnaround time and is part of a fighter program on time and on budget – a matter of pride to Saab and a rarity in the industry. However, the truly impressive features of the Gripen E are hidden deep within the plane’s design.
A step ahead
Split avionics and a modular system ensure that Gripen E will always be mission-ready. “Computers, processors and electronics are continuously developing and it’s important that you can upgrade these as new tech emerges on the market,” says Saab’s Wing Commander Flying and Gripen test pilot Hans Einerth. The Gripen E system was specifically developed with future progress in mind. By managing to isolate systems affecting the core flight abilities, the plane’s split avionics system allows for the integration of off-the-shelf products.
“The future pilot will need the ability to continuously upgrade the hardware and software and not get stuck in old functionality; this is of increasing importance,” explains Einerth. Early in the development process both Gripen engineers and strategists knew that an upgradeable system would ensure that the fighter would maintain the necessary technological edge in ever-evolving battle scenarios.
Focusing on the system’s software Einerth is keen to underline the importance of the ability to update Gripen’s algorithms to get full use of the airplanes state of the art sensors and datalinks. “Detection and tracking algorithms in our sensors need to be constantly upgraded, as well as the sensors which are using information from different platforms and different sensors.” The algorithm upgrades aid the Electronic Warfare systems and target tracking (both the Raven ES-05 AESA Radar and the infra-red search and track – IRST). “The radar will still be our main sensor in the future and it’s important to be able to update the radar’s detection and tracking algorithms."
Gripen – Constantly evolving
In an uncertain future one certainty is that the pilots with the most up-to-date intelligent systems will be the ones with the leading edge. Gripen is a smart fighter, built to evolve and has its systems ready to be upgraded for any eventuality. An evolutionary mindset has been at the core of Gripen.