The recent successful launch and recovery of a LCA(Navy) test aircraft from INS Vikramaditya is a milestone achievement for all the organisations involved. Saab believes that, working in partnership with this naval expertise, Gripen Maritime can be taken from the current final design stage through a development programme to produce a world-beating naval fighter.
Gripen Maritime has been designed to provide the maximum multi-role day/night capability and performance from both STOBAR and CATOBAR carriers. Utilising the latest model based systems engineering practices perfected by Saab, dedicated teams have worked over a number of years to achieve certification of the maritime version. (These teams included experts from UK industry with extensive experience in the design, manufacture and operation of carrier borne fighters. This specialist assistance throughout the main design phase ensured that the solution was one that would work in the very demanding and hostile carrier borne environment).
Gripen has a small footprint, about the same as the Sea Harrier, allowing more fighters to be embarked in current and future IN carriers. Gripen Maritime has a low support requirement. The on-condition maintenance philosophy keeps logistics resources to a minimum, and provides for maximum ease and speed of routine embarked maintenance. In addition, low fuel consumption and spares requirements result in a marked reduction to afloat replenishment during extended embarked periods at sea.
Adaptations necessary to tailor and optimize the weapon system to India’s operational requirements will be introduced. Additionally, Gripen´s design philosophy includes a rolling software upgrade programme that will ensure maximum operational capability for decades.
For the command at sea it is critical that they can rely on the embarked fighters to be ready 24/7 for all combat eventualities. For the Indian Navy, blue water carrier ops can stretch for many weeks at sea, sometimes months, given their extensive maritime areas of interest. Gripen has inherent operational capabilities and a support structure that will provide the highest levels of availability to the command. Specifically:
- Highest Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and lowest Mean Time To Repair(MTTR) in class puts more fully serviceable aircraft on deck 24/7
- On condition maintenance and fast turn round in all roles enable high tempo operations for sustained periods. 10 minutes for air-to-air, 20 minutes for air-to-surface.
- Excellent precision manoeuvrability on deck will speed up launch and recovery cycle times. The carrier will spend less time on the designated flying course where they are vulnerable.
Support Operations at sea:
- Less complex maintenance schedules will ease squadron technical manpower manning requirements and numbers
- Gripen support philosophy will enable a new and simple maintenance regime to be established for short or extended carrier ops
- Single engine plus low fuel consumption means less aviation fuel required. The supporting oiler can stay with the battle group for considerably longer periods at sea
- Low spares loading means less space required on carrier and accompanying supply ships
Gripen Maritime – the pilots fighter
Gripen Maritime will provide the pilot with exceptional inherent handling capabilities for safe and consistent deck launch and landing, under all weather conditions, day and night. The design philosophy includes a canard-delta and relaxed stability for stable and exceptional manoeuvrability at all speeds and configurations. For carrier approach and landing specifically, Gripen Maritime will provide:
- Exceptional low speed control in all planes will allow precise flight path positioning for safe deck landings, day and night
- Auto Throttle System to reduce pilot workload on carrier approach and landing
- A fully Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS) will be developed for test aircraft flight trials. It is expected that by the time Gripen Maritime reaches FOC, a fully functional and fully autonomous ACLS will be cleared for use under all conditions
Gripen Maritime fighter package to India:
Saab will provide India with a complete navalised Gripen fighter weapon system including all necessary elements for operating the fighter over the life of the aircraft. The deliverables include:
- 57 Gripen Maritime multi-role aircraft equipped with the latest generation sensor suite of IRST, Radar and Electronic Warfare System with AESA and GaN technologies
- 2 Gripen Maritime Prototype/Test aircraft
- Full logistics, support and training package for instructor pilots and technicians
- Comprehensive transfer of technology programme to ensure that India has full self-reliant capabilities for the operation, support and upgrade of the aircraft for their operational life.
- As additional security, the Gripen fighter is backed by a fully funded Saab development programme through to 2050.
- Role equipment to provide Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground and Reconnaissance capabilities including complete sets of pylons, drop tanks and Helmet Mounted Displays.
- Operational support systems including Mission Support System (MSS), Maintenance Ground Support System (MGSS), Digital Map Generation System (DMGS) and radio support equipment
- Electronic warfare tools to gain full indigenous capability for simulation and threat library generation
- All logistic deliveries to enable self-sufficient operation with the highest degree of operational availability during concurrent operation from from two aircraft carriers
- Training devices for networked pilot training, including full mission rehearsal training, as well as ground crew training on board the aircraft carrier(s).