Saab has shown no desire to slow the continued enhancement of its current C and D variants of the Gripen combat type, despite the development of its next-generation Gripen E.
“This is an aircraft that will fly until 2030 at least,” says Lennart Sindhal, head of aeronautics at the Swedish manufacturer. “The Gripen C/D is not something of the past, it's something of the future and we forsee more customers coming in as C/D customers.
"So it is not as if we have left the C/D era going into the E. We will see this going in parallel here,” says Sindhal.
The manufacturer has recently completed "edition 20" of its updates for the C/D models, which will become operational in 2015. The latest enhancements introduce a range of electronic warfare modifications, and also integrate the MBDA Meteor missile and Boeing’s Small Diameter Bomb into the type’s inventory.
“With this edition 20, we have the best fighter - whatever you compare it with,” says Sindhal.
He adds that there are further refinements planned, including an upgrade to the C/D’s radar system. Nevertheless, it will not reach the capability of the Selex ES Raven active electronically scanned array radar that has been selected for the Gripen E.
“We will work more on the back end. It is more about processing,” says Sindhal.
The Swedish company has been studying other potential derivatives, including a marinised version dubbed the Sea Gripen. An optionally piloted variant is also being studied, although Sindahl does not expect that will be required before 2040.