Saab reveals next-generation features


Saab/BAE Systems has revealed its plans for the future of the Gripen, outlining improvements already being developed or under consideration. The company plans to upgrade the aircraft through a process of "continuous technology insertion" rather than a single-step mid-life upgrade.

Although Gripen already has an effective tactical datalink, it was developed to meet specifically Swedish requirements. The company is therefore integrating Link 16 JTIDS into the aircraft in order to provide greater commonality and interoperability with NATO aircraft. Saab/BAE will retain the existing datalink, which has impressive intra-flight capabilities, since simply replacing it with Link 16 would actually result in a loss of capability. Full integration is expected by 2004.


For the first export aircraft Saab/BAE is also integrating the Litening laser designator pod, giving enhanced precision-attack capabilities.

In the longer term Gripen is likely to receive an active electronically scanned array for its PS-5 radar giving improved range, volume and tracking accuracy.

An infra-red search-and-track sensor is already being flight-tested and the cockpit will gain a wider-angle HUD, a binocular helmet display, direct voice input, 3D audio and larger-area colour displays.

New weapons are to be integrated, including IRIS-T (for Sweden), Python IV and ASRAAM short-range air-to-air missiles and R-Darter (for South Africa) and Meteor long-range AAMs.

In the air-to-ground role the aircraft will get GBU-31 JDAM and JDAM-ER, AGM-154 JSOW, KEPD-350, Brimstone and Europe's HARM alternative, Armiger.


The aircraft will also receive self-defence systems improvements, including an enhanced electronic warfare suite, laser-warning receivers and a missile-approach warning system.

In the longer term, the design team is exploring a reduced-signature engine (perhaps the GE414, or perhaps the PW7000), a fuselage plug and conformal fuel tanks.

Source: Flight Daily News