On 18 May 2016 Saab unveiled the first of the next generation Gripen aircraft. It’s a key milestone in the evolution of The Smart Fighter. Gripen is a unique fighter concept, bringing a balance between excellent operational performance, high-tech solutions, cost-efficiency and industrial partnership into one, smart fighter system. That’s why Saab calls it “The smart fighter”. Gripen E combines advanced technology and operational effectiveness in an affordable package that Saab says no other fighter aircraft can match. Based on the proven Gripen C/D platform, the Gripen E (also referred to as Gripen E/F) carry this heritage and continues to be one of the most advanced multi-role fighters in the world - revolutionary because it combines advanced technology and operational effectiveness in an affordable package that no other fighter aircraft can hope to match.
The JAS-39E Gripen is an enlarged, beefed up version of the Gripen, with a new more powerful engine, the General Electric F414, as well as capacity for 40% more fuel (thanks to a redesigned central fuselage) and additional weapon pylons. The company has also put significant emphasis on data fusion with information from a new active, electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, infrared search and track, electronic warfare systems and more advanced data links.
Gripen E is a fully NATO-interoperable, true multi-role fighter with outstanding availability, tailored for the future Network Centric Warfare (NCW) environment. Gripen E will meet the demanding operational requirements of the 21st century air forces and its unrivalled multi-role capability provides excellent tactical flexibility. Gripen E offers operational dominance and flexibility with superior mission survivability. Air-to-air superiority is guaranteed with 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 superior situation awareness is ensured through an AESA radar, IRST passive sensor, HMD, cutting-edge avionics, next generation data processing and a state-of-the-art cockpit.
Together with proven Network Centric Warfare capabilities including advanced data communications, dual data links, satellite communications and video links, make Gripen E the ideal independent fighter of choice. On-board sensors, in combination with HMD/NVG, deliver the ability to detect and destroy a wide variety of targets, even at night or in poor weather conditions. 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.
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. This means that the radar can simultaneously and independently track different targets, and also track targets independently of search volumes. IRST an electro-optical system mounted 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 tactical advantage of a passive sensor is that it will not give a position away. The highly advanced EW system can function as a passive or active sensor, warning for incoming missiles or radar looking at you. It can also be used for electronic attacks and jamming other radars. Coupled to the countermeasure such as chaff and flares the EW system can enhance the survivability.
Almost any weapon can be integrated, giving Gripen E very high weapon flexibility. This is partly due to the flexible avionic architecture. Because of its well-documented ease of new weapon integration, Gripen served as the main test platform for Meteor, the latest long range air to air missile. Gripen E is a Network Centric fighter and can communicate two ways with all armed units. It has a secure and multi-frequency data links system that provides total situation awareness. The acquired information – along with information about each Gripen’s position, fuel and weapon status – is shared with other Gripen fighters via the data link. Gripen E is built for high survivability in a combat environment. Gripen tactics are based on smart use of a variety of electronic warfare capabilities. The RWR (Radar Warning Receiver) is the source for an accurate sensor for detecting emitting threats such as radar. And the Missile Approach Warning (MAW) system can detect and track incoming missiles of all types.
Gripen E has weapons for all types of mission, from guided glide bombs for precision engagement with low collateral damage, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments. Additionally, the aircraft has an inherent precision strike and stand-off capability. The single-seat Gripen E is equipped with a 27 mm Mauser BK27 gun. This can be used in air-to-surface attacks against land and sea targets and is suitable for air policing missions. Gripen NG can also carry pods and sensors for reconnaissance and special missions. These include Litening, Reccelite, DJRP and MRPS pods. It is one of the easiest aircraft of its kind to add new weapons to. This makes it a favourite among weapons companies as they can quickly and easily use Gripen for development. For example, it was selected for testing the Meteor missile. This benefits users, as new armaments are available to them more quickly compared to other aircraft.
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