Gripen: True Combat Effectiveness, Delivered

A smart air force has to answer many questions when it comes to making its air power choices for the 21st Century. No single element defines combat effectiveness for the modern fighter. To fly, fight and win a combat aircraft must combine a number of factors, in a single balanced design. To be relevant and effective a modern air force must be aware of these elements, and master them all.

A fighter that cannot win the air battle is useless. Gripen’s roots lie in the plans for air war over Europe at the end of the 20th century. Gripen was designed to defend Sweden against a superpower enemy in an environment of total conflict. All of the basic design attributes that made Gripen the right choice then remain valid today: the aircraft is fast, agile and difficult to detect. It can carry a very wide load of weapons and sensors, while sustaining high-tempo operations with the minimum of support.

More than this, Gripen is designed around the smart use of technology to dominate the air domain. Every Gripen combines an advanced radar and sensor suite, with tightly integrated electronic warfare systems, high-speed datalinks and the most sophisticated cockpit of any fighter in service anywhere today. Gripen pilots fight as a team, using clever tactics and unique systems to stay always one-step ahead of the threat. A well-planned process of capability enhancement means that Gripen is the first (and only) fighter equipped with the world’s most advanced air-to-air weapons – the MBDA Meteor – while retaining the ability to hit 16 ground targets on a single missions, or sink heavily defended surface vessels far over the horizon. Gripen is multi-role and swing role with the ability to undertake any combat mission, but also to switch taskings while in the air.  This means that a Gripen air force has unparalleled combat power at its fingertips.

A fighter that cannot be supported and maintained is useless. With Gripen, ease of operations is built-in from the ground up. The aircraft is simple to maintain, even in the field. Gripen can be maintained in all weathers, by small numbers of personnel, with almost no specialist equipment. Gripen doesn’t need extensive base infrastructure and has a very short logistics chain. Operators have full control over spares, equipment, documentation and all support maintenance schedules. This means the Gripen air force has more aircraft available for operations every day, week, month and year.

A fighter that cannot be deployed and sustained is useless. Air forces need to be able to go where they are needed, and keep flying once they get there. The Gripen air force can deploy quickly, to any location, and is ready for operations as soon as it arrives. Gripen has a modest support footprint and is capable of autonomous operations from the arctic snows to desert wastes, and all places in between. Gripen can fly from mountain air bases, small island airfields and even from road strips, if required. This means a Gripen air force can always deploy to meet the needs of its commanders and project a credible force in any scenario.

A fighter that costs too much to acquire and operate is useless.  Some of today’s combat aircraft are becoming too expensive to own. Air forces around the world are forced to acquire fewer and fewer fighters as their ambitions shrink to meet available budgets – and purchase prices are only part of the problem. The real issue for air forces is the cost of maintaining and sustaining a credible fighter force for 20, 30 or 40 years. This burden can destroy an operator; but the Gripen air force is ready for this challenge. Gripen costs are predictable and manageable throughout the life of the aircraft. Gripen incorporates a constant cycle of easy upgrades, so the force remains fully effective for as long as it remains in service. Gripen will never face issues of block obsolescence or major upgrades that wipe out flying assets and take years to complete.

These are just some of the factors that dictate true combat effectiveness for the modern air force. To be a real asset, for the armed forces and for the nation, a fighter aircraft must be able to deliver all of these benefits, all of the time. Only Gripen can do this. Only Gripen gives the modern air force the combat power and confidence to take on the 21st century. That’s why we call it the smart fighter.