Saab has held recent early discussions with the Swedish air force and export operators of the Gripen C/D about a dramatic upgrade in capability for the type’s PS-05/A fire-control radar.
Disclosed by company officials on 27 April, the Mk4 modification involves the replacement of two line-replaceable units in the back section of the mechanically-scanned radar. This provides a new exciter/receiver module with digital waveform generation and a new radar processing unit, along with updated software.
As a result of these updates, the PS-05/A Mk4 gains a claimed increase in detection range of at least 100%, and this is expected to rise to 150% for a high-altitude air-to-air engagement scenario by 2017, Saab says. Such a boost will enable the Gripen to capitalise on the full firing envelope for the Raytheon AIM-120 AMRAAM and MBDA Meteor air-to-air missiles.
The enhancement also offers an increased capability to detect helicopters and targets with a low radar cross section, as well as improved air-to-ground performance.
Saab says the self-funded development has already been flight-tested, during campaigns conducted in December 2014 and last month. The adaptation – which retains the PS-05/A’s existing front-end hardware – makes use of commercial off-the-shelf equipment, and systems developed in support of some of its other radar programmes.
“The aircraft modifications needed have been kept to the absolute minimum, and you can switch between Mk3 and 4 hardware configurations easily within the aircraft,” says Jan Qvillberg, head of the company’s fighter radar and datalinks product area.
Speaking at its Linköping site, Qvillberg says the company could deliver an operational system within two years of a contract being placed, with the Mk4 design also suitable for integration with other aircraft types.
“We will offer this on to any new export customers, and have briefed all of the existing C/D customers,” says Jerker Ahlqvist, Saab’s head of Gripen. In addition to Sweden, the models are also currently flown by the air forces of the Czech Republic, Hungary, South Africa and Thailand.
The C/D-version fighter cannot currently be equipped with an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, without first requiring major structural modifications to accommodate systems to provide increased power and cooling capacity. However, the in-development Gripen E, which is on order for the Swedish air force and also Brazil for delivery from 2019, will be supplied with the Selex ES-produced ES-05 Raven AESA sensor.