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Decisive Information Advantage within reach for the IAF

3 min read

In a live battleground, information is everything. Reliable information. Fast.
A great Human-Machine-Interface (HMI) is no longer enough for a pilot to sort and evaluate the available information in a highly contested battlespace. With modern networked sensors working together across systems, the information available can be massive and thus time consuming to evaluate. Every split second counts.

Gripen E Cockpit

This is where Gripen E’s Human-Machine-Collaboration (HMC) comes in. It fuses the sensor data and presents it in a sophisticated, filtered format that allows the pilot to make a quick, calculated decision. And it doesn’t stop there. The HMC also makes decisions by itself, relieving the pilot of tasks all together. The pilot simply decides what level of automation he or she would like during a mission.

“We envisioned Gripen E to be an extension of the pilot’s mind and body, and we achieve it through advanced HMC. Anything the pilot wants the fighter aircraft to do, he should be able to do fast, with just a couple of commands. That is the only way the pilot will make the right decision at the right time, and ensure mission success,” says Jussi Halmetoja, Operations Adviser of Air Domain at Saab Aeronautics, and a former Gripen pilot.

Gripen, with its software-controlled system, flies on its own and even performs certain missions without the pilot’s assistance, thus reducing his workload during critical missions.

For high-tempo missions where the threats and the pilot’s options are many, the HMC offers suggestions from weapon selection to aircraft handling and countermeasures dispensing. Along with the suggestions, the pilot is even presented with the outcome of each option. This means the pilot will know beforehand how a threat scenario will change if he takes a particular action. In many ways the journey towards artificial intelligence has begun.

Part of the complex HMC in Gripen is a wide area display. It gives the pilot one large picture of the scene around him and uses clever association and fusion algorithms to present the most relevant information in the best possible way. The layout and functions of the display can be adjusted to fit any scenario or pilot preference.

“It is all about user-friendliness. While designing Gripen’s HMC, the goal was to make sure the pilot could operate everything via instinct. It’s important to understand where these instincts are coming from, and which buttons would the pilot normally press when he needs to make fast decisions,” says Jussi.

It’s simply all about always being one step ahead of your opponent. Or why not two.