“The littoral space is confined, posing limited manoeuvrability – and most conflict hotspots have littoral aspects. Add longer-range weapons and sensors, and shorter response, detection and reaction times, and you have a harsh, challenging place,” says Patrik Frank, Saab’s Program Director for the RBS15 Gungnir.
“But if you can cope with littoral scenarios, you can cope with any area.”
Saab’s answer to these challenges comes in the form of Gungnir’s enhanced capabilities. Jointly developed by Saab and Germany’s Diehl Defence, Gungnir is the newest addition to the RBS15 family, utilising the RBS15 Mk4 missile. However, it’s more than just a missile – Gungnir is the complete solution, seamlessly integrating with existing infrastructure to comprehensively tackle tomorrow’s ever-escalating pressures.
Ready for tomorrow
Whilst the current Mk3 delivers exactly what forces need now, Gungnir and its Mk4 missile are ready to face the future.
Mr Frank sounds a warning note for defence forces on the changing threats of littoral conflict.“Technology is constantly changing, and electronic warfare – such as jamming and decoys – is a massive factor. Countermeasures must constantly evolve; and Gungnir will adapt to future threats.”
Gungnir’s enhanced features include a range of over 300 km, improved defence penetration and electronic protection.The solution also has a state-of-the-art, all-weather target seeker – allowing the operator to tackle more progressive threats, in more complex environments, than ever before.
And, as Mr Frank states, Gungnir can be adapted for future threats, particularly electronic warfare.
“If we are using ships as an example, they have ever improving hard-kill and soft-kill defensive systems, so we must adapt accordingly. We think about how to approach the target and make allowances for what the enemy is doing or will do, like jamming and other capabilities. Gungnir can be updated to counter advances in technology and what the enemy has in its capabilities,” he adds.
A key feature is the option to engage targets from the air, as well as from land and sea. This enhances the ability to perform coordinated attacks with multiple missiles and from multiple platforms, against a wide range of targets – both at sea and on land.
Added to this is smarter autonomous technology, a new anti-jam GPS for more robust navigation and improved survivability and a new composite airframe. The Gungnir also comes prepared to utilise a new data link, enabling retargeting in flight. The system’s innovative continuous upgrade solution and capacity ensures Gungnir is on target, no matter what the future holds.
“Gungnir can be prepared for change. There is a baseline for continuous improvements and Gungnir will not become obsolete,” says Mr Frank. “We are working with hardware design that allows for future software updates. We also work with the customer to produce the solution that’s correct for them – for example, whether to integrate the data link.”
Cutting edge to the core
The Mk4 and Mk3 may be hard to tell apart, but the difference is where it counts – on the inside.
“People often believe they are the same because of the exterior,” says Mr Frank. “Put them side by side, and you cannot tell the difference, but it hides its best features – the inside is completely different.”
The Mk4 is more advanced than ever before, with its improved target seeker and unrivalled endgame capabilities; and is perfect for littoral environments – one of the most complicated settings forces will face.
Saab is especially proud of the Mk4’s versatility. One of the solution’s key strengths is its future-proofing and adaptability.
Saab’s Director of Business Management Bjorn Bengtsson says of the system’s flexibility: “Creating the missile was a big challenge and some outsiders see the same thing [as the Mk3]. But it’s one hell of a missile – what’s inside can be upgraded and kept modern in an entirely new way. It can adapt to the customer’s needs.”
Mr Bengtsson adds: “The Mk4 has several key advancements. Range is very critical – over 300 km – when enemies have long-range hard-kill systems, and distance provides clear protection with increased stand-off.
“The Mk4’s low weight is another key attribute, which means it can be used in air systems and on a wide range of surface platforms.”
RBS15 Gungnir’s seamless update concept allows customers to enjoy ultimate confidence in their systems. Saab and the customer unite to calibrate a bespoke missile solution based on the latter’s needs.
Asked about the customer experience, Mr Frank says: “We ask the customer what they want, and provide the solution. Regular software updates are key and strong hardware means we can cover and prepare for many software possibilities. If you limit hardware, you limit capabilities. We have thought ahead.”
He goes on: “Gungnir is the combination of teamwork and many years’ dedication. We use new and existing technology to create the best possible product and keep life cycle costs down.”
A partner for tomorrow One crucial benefit of all Saab products is the company’s approach to partnership, and Gungnir is no different. The system comes with tailored support throughout its 30-year service life.
Customers can maintain full national control of the solution and, with the benefit of Saab’s insight into the technology, adapt it to suit individual requirements. Each RBS15 Gungnir sea, land and air system also incorporates features including integration with the platform and existing systems; test and maintenance equipment; training; and engagement planning functionality.
“Saab will continue to develop RBS15 Mk3 for today, with the option for customers to smoothly transition to Gungnir when they are ready,” says Mr Bengtsson. “Our aim is to provide both current and new customers with the best solution, now and in the future, and to help them operate it in a way that completely suits their needs.”