Gripen's MFS-EW System is Made for Tomorrow

The operational signal environment for EW systems is growing more complex and systems that were developed some 20 years ago have become redundant. This makes it difficult for fighters to handle and recognize threat signals and differentiate them with other signals. The electromagnetic environment in future will be larger, more digital, more complex. The EW system of the future, therefore, must be able to operate in a congested, multi-domain, and multi-national environment. The system should also be able to not just selectively attack, but also be effective against deception and flooding.

With MFS-EW system (Multi Functional System-Electronic Warfare), Gripen pilots can stay on the top of their game as it is engineered to handle the signal environment of today and the future by using ultra-wide band digital receivers, advanced signal processing, and extensive processing capacity that can distinguish the real threat signals from others. The MFS-EW is based on the EW product family called Arexis and is being developed by Saab’s EW business unit in Järfälla.

According to a report by Richard Scott, one of the big drivers for the MFSEW performance specification was the requirement to not only contribute to Gripen E’s situational awareness, but to also act as a target-acquisition sensor.

About the MFS-EW system features, Petter Bedoire, Saab’s Chief Technology Officer, told the Journal of Electronic Defence that it acts as a warner to cue countermeasures and jammers, and incorporates full ESM functionality. This results in an increased dwell time, leading to a precised targeting.

"Also, the system is constantly sampling the electromagnetic environment. This means a vast amount of data is recorded for post-mission analysis and emitter-database support," he added.

The technology “building blocks” of the MFS-EW are ultra-wide band digital receivers, digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) devices, gallium nitride (GaN) solid-state active electronically scanned array (AESA) jammer transmitters, and interferometric direction finding systems. These sensors are integrated into one high level sensor fusion which becomes a powerful situational awareness system for the pilot.

According to the report, during the initial deliveries of Gripen E to Sweden and Brazil, only the passive functionality- the RWR/ESM (Radar Warning Receiver / Electronic Support Measure) - of the MFS-EW will be integrated with the MS21 configuration. The complete MFS-EW package with AESA jamming functionality will be enabled with the MS22 upgrade. And things won’t stop there. The MFS-EW system will continue to evolve after the delivery of MS22, courtesy the spilt avionics of Gripen E.

“That’s a real game-changer because it means that new or updated functionality can be introduced without the need for expensive and time-consuming re-qualification of safety-critical flight avionics. So, we will continue to evolve the MFS-EW system after delivery of MS22," Petter Bedoire said.

To know more about the history and the development of the MFS-EW, read here.