The Gripen E/F test programme has now reached new heights as it moves forward from basic flight trials to testing the aircraft's tactical and sensor systems, reports Jane's.
Saab's Head of Business Unit Gripen E/F, Eddy De La Motte, presented a complete Gripen update at the Gripen Seminar 2020 last week where he spoke briefly on the ongoing tests on the aircraft's mission systems.
"We have six aircraft currently in flight testing and we passed 300 hours a couple of weeks ago. Flight testing is proceeding to plan and now the tactical suite and sensor systems are the testing focus - the radar, the infrared search and track [IRST], the electronic warfare [EW], and other mission systems," Eddy said.
The sensor and tactical systems of Gripen allows it to collect and utilize all available data in the battle cloud from other Gripen fighters, or other land and sea-based units. This helps Gripen see the unseen and stay ahead of an opponent during a mission.
IRST, the electro-optical system mounted on top of Gripen’s nose, can register heat emissions from other aircraft, helicopters and from objects on the ground and sea surface. Being a passive sensor, IRST doesn’t give a fighter’s position away.
Gripen E/F is also fitted with the Selex ES-05 Raven Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar. The radar features a full array of small antennas, called elements. AESA can simultaneously track different targets, and also track targets independently of search volumes. The combination of IRST and AESA offers full operational search and track functionality with Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) capabilities.
Gripen’s highly advanced internal EW system can function as a passive or active sensor, warning for incoming missiles or radar. It can also be used for electronic attacks (EA) and jamming other radars. Coupled with countermeasures such as chaffs and flares, the EW system can enhance the survivability of the aircraft.
About the sensor tests already performed on Gripen E, Eddy said that they have all been very successful. “The results so far suggest the sensor systems are performing better than expected,” he said.