A missile system fit for the future

Modern warfare is changing at a rapid pace and forces can no longer make do with missile systems that might struggle to face up to tomorrow’s threats. To combat this problem, Saab has implemented a hands-on design, development and support process to provide clients with a truly future-proof missile system – the RBS15 Gungnir.

Jointly developed by Saab and Diehl Defence, Gungnir is the latest member of the RBS15 family, utilising the RBS15 Mk4 missile. Designed to dominate any environment, the Mk4 can operate effectively in littorals and blue waters. It can also be launched from land, sea and air platforms – offering exceptional versatility.

The solution combines vast experience with the latest innovations and can handle all modern naval challenges, such as clutter and adverse weather. Gungnir is an immensely powerful, state-of-the-art weapon. But there’s no denying that the product’s real USP is its future-proof capability.

“It’s always difficult to predict what’s around the corner, but the best suppliers should deliver systems which consider what forces might need in the medium to long-term, by offering flexible solutions that can incorporate enhanced capabilities later down the line,” says Björn Bengtsson, a Director of Business Management with Saab.

Mr Bengtsson, who previously spent 15 years in the Swedish Navy, is no stranger to the ever-evolving challenges faced by forces – and he believes that the best missile systems need to be innovative from the point of inception, as well as easily upgradable to suit the pace of change in hardware and software. 

“Many years ago, you bought a system and its capabilities were utterly defined by its hardware. This meant that, if the hardware became outmoded midway through the missile’s life, there were very few things you could do to improve it. At best, you could do a few technical things to boost performance, and it might remain semi-modern for about 10 to 15 years, before being phased out after a total service life of 20 to 30 years.

“In short, regular replacements were always crucial to the success and flexibility of forces. But today, this is no longer the case, as Saab is working tirelessly to engineer future-proof missile solutions using the latest technology.”

Miguel Svensson, a fellow Director of Business Management with Saab, says the company is rising above modern challenges through a combination of research, engineering and close collaboration with customers.

“With RBS15 Gungnir, we have used the most advanced hardware available to create a product we believe has unrivalled capacity for future growth,” he says.

“The technological and architectural design allows for hardware and software upgrades which don’t even exist yet. This effectively means that Saab has had to predict tomorrow’s challenges, today.”

Anticipating a changing combat landscape

The nature of littoral conflicts is constantly changing, as are the security situations across numerous countries and the potential threats faced by tomorrow’s forces.

“If we compare the situation we had 15 years ago to today, the global outlook is rapidly moving from asymmetric conflict towards symmetric threats,” Mr Svensson says.

“When you are suddenly faced with this kind of conflict – involving an equally matched or more capable opponent – you need the very best systems in order to succeed. Many forces are overly reliant on GPS or other technologies when symmetric opponents could be using jamming techniques just like yours, and capable of countering the latest defensive innovations. This is why you need robust and reliable weapons at hand if all else fails; to provide effective defence through deterrence.”

Gungnir’s innovative features include a range of over 300 km, improved defence penetration and electronic protection. It also has an all-weather target seeker – allowing operators to tackle progressive threats in complex environments.

Game-changing design through collaboration

Saab has been handpicked by the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration to deliver RBS15 Gungnir as an integrated capability to the Swedish Defence Forces.

Integrated product teams and other collaborative groups consisting of specialists from the armed forces and industry have worked alongside Saab to help shape the company’s state-of-the-art missile solution into something fit to take on whatever the future might hold.

“Every step of the way, the customer has been close to the action and involved in the entire design and development process,” Mr Svensson says.

“We wanted the customer to get involved with Gungnir from day one and give us an inside take on the anticipated combat challenges of the future,” Mr Bengtsson adds.

“The product has been built on two strict sets of requirements – one from our customer and the other from in-house, incorporating Saab’s own innovative ideas and vision.”

Saab’s approach has helped the company to pinpoint future threats, anticipate compatibility issues and find ways of rising above contemporary design hurdles. The development of Gungnir has been a game-changing experience for the group, but the very nature of the product means that even more exciting challenges lie ahead.

Continuous innovation and support

Mr Svensson, who has an extensive engineering background, notes that Saab is facing an iconic challenge met by all the best innovators in any field – that of developing advanced technological systems which will integrate well with both existing and currently unknown technology.

“It’s in Saab’s DNA to ensure that customers get an efficient system which isn’t limited to what’s contained in its factory hardware,” he says, “and that is our biggest challenge ahead.”

“To ensure Gungnir’s technology doesn’t become outmoded, we will work side by side with users throughout the product’s ownership. The idea is to keep the development and innovation process continuous, with us providing regular updates and training opportunities while customers consistently relay their feedback and ideas for new capabilities.”

“We’re talking hands-on support throughout the product’s 30-year life cycle,” he says.

A truly future-proof solution

With the RBS15 Gungnir, Saab has created an advanced missile solution fit for the future and beyond, backed by an outstanding maintenance support offering.

“Customers who purchase Gungnir aren’t just getting a missile, they’re getting membership into a comprehensive support network,” says Mr Bengtsson.

“As a customer, they will have an opportunity to participate in the continual growth and evolution of Gungnir. It’s entirely up to them – they can embrace this experience to the fullest or just sit back and enjoy the ride while benefiting from a world-leading missile system, together with Saab’s commitment to innovation and unrivalled support.”

See RBS15 Gungnir and meet us at DSEI, London 10-13 September 

Visit us during DSEI in London, stand 200 - and find out more on RBS15 Gungnir.