Today, Saab unveiled GRIPEN E, a fully NATO-interoperable, true multi-role fighter with outstanding availability, tailored for the future Network Centric Warfare (NCW) environment, according to the company. Saab says GRIPEN E will meet the demanding operational requirements of 21. Century air forces, offering operational flexibility via METEOR, AMRAAM, IRIS-T, AIM-9 missile capability and supercruise. Air-to-surface capability is assured through the use of the latest generation precision weapons and targeting sensors. GRIPEN E's situation awareness is ensured through an AESA radar, IRST passive sensor, helmet mounted display (HMD), cutting-edge avionics, next generation data processing, and a state-of-the-art cockpit.
Proven Network Centric Warfare capabilities include advanced data communications, dual data links, satellite communications and video links. On-board sensors, in combination with HMD/night vision googles (NVG), deliver the ability to detect and destroy a wide variety of targets, even at night or in poor weather conditions.
Designed via a model based design (MBD), it was ensured that design errors are detected early and not late in the development process. The MBD allows verifications to be conducted in simulators and as a result, fewer test flights are needed. So, while almost 4,000 sorties were required to prepare the C/D model, the new test platforms should fly only a combined 1,200 times. According to Lars Ydreskog, Saab’s Head of Aerospace Operations, the MBD technique is generating huge benefits for the GRIPEN E project. Saab has dramatically reduced the number of parts in GRIPEN development through modular design.
Ydreskog further informed on GRIPEN E’s integrated modular avionics, which include powerful application software defined system functions, and which handles hardware, providing a manageable development environment, upgradeable to meet future needs/possibilites.
According to Markus Wandt, Experimental Test Pilot at Saab, key components of situational awareness include flexible pilot-vehicle interface with the ability to translate from high level battle management to traditional fighter tasks; as well as high performance sensors with a modern architechture designed for modern sensors: IRST, AESA (39-7, IOC will be 2021 with FOC 2023), Electronic Warfare Suite (EWS), Missile Approach Warning (MAW); making the aircraft a true swingrole by having been designed from the ground up to act in all traditional rooles at the same time.
Hakan Buskhe, President and CEO Saab, told MT a day before the roll--out: "It is a dream for a CEO to have a rollout of an aircraft just three years after the signature." On the GRIPEN E roadmap the CEO told MT that Saab is competing in Belgium and Finnland, as well as having ongoing discussions with India. “We believe Switzerland will come back,” he said. Overall, "this is the best aircraft you can fly today," he boasted.
“We have a good market position, and we want to increase our market share by developing the position we have,” Jerker Ahlqvist, Saab Head of GRIPEN, informed MT. “There is large interest in GRIPEN worldwide with long-term future development and production secured.”
The GRIPEN E programme, “is full speed ahead, 60 aircraft in total, all of them single seaters,” he explained. “2019 sees the first aircraft delivered,” while from #30 on Saab will produce aircraft on time and on budget, according to him. The Swedish Air Force said that by 2023 they will have one division IOC.
On future sales and on-time deliveries, the Head of GRIPEN informed that with Brazil (36 aircraft), “we have established a production capability (still a few years down the line to have it running), while here in Sweden we will be able to build 25-30 aircraft a year. "
According to Saab, deliveries will start in 2019 (with first flight tests still happening by the end of this year, beginning 2017), alongside training and support. Assembly of the second and third test aircraft are in different stages of production, while also manufacturing a test aircraft for Brazil. The design for the serial aircraft is ongoing. New tactical systems rig will soon be operative according to Swedish company executives, adding these to the test aircraft once ready. 60 single seaters will be delivered to Sweden and 36 (28+8) are on contract with Brazil.
Peter Hultqvist, Swedish Minister of Defence, confirmed that Sweden is, ”investing in a new generation of submarines and aircraft. We will also increase our military investments overall. We want to export GRIPEN and submarines. We have to be active from the political level.”