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Harnessing the Power of Ever-Increasing Processing Speeds

3 min read

Ever thought you could mention fighter aircraft in the same breath as smartphones? Like a smartphone, Gripen will continue to evolve as technology becomes increasingly advanced. Thousands of hours have been spent developing the avionics software of Gripen which will allow the user to tackle and stay ahead of new and future threats. A report by Vayu elaborates on how Gripen’s avionics with high adaptability will enhance the Indian Air Force's overall performance in an asymmetric warfare.

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According to Mats Palmberg, Head of Gripen India Campaign, it is essential for the Indian Air Force to have an aircraft that is able to harness the increasing power of processing speeds, storage, artificial intelligence and machine learning to deal with the challenges of asymmetric warfare. "India is one of the few countries in the world that is already having to cope with asymmetric warfare. Gripen E is uniquely equipped to enhance its (IAF’s) overall performance, situational awareness, electronic warfare capability and pilot's ability to process huge volumes of data in a future driven by escalating and asymmetric threats," says Mats.

The advanced Avionics Platform Software (APS) architecture that is embedded in the Gripen software allows the fighter's functionality to be customized and upgraded to address future needs, much like a smart phone. The key is to have a software as generic and flexible as possible. "By having generic software and generic computers that aren’t dependent on each other, it’s much easier to upgrade software,” says Daniela Ivanic, Project Manager, Avionics Platform Software.

The Gripen system is mainly divided in two functions, namely the flight-critical and mission-critical functions. The flight critical functions are functions that ensure the safety and security of pilots while the mission-critical functions include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as communication, radio and navigation systems for combat and peacekeeping operations. Separating these two means that the mission functions can be upgraded without having to retest safety critical functions, and vice versa. "When integrating new functionality or a new weapons system, the protocols are standardized. That way, we don’t need to upgrade the computers as well,” says Ivanic.

The agnostic architecture also enables the integration of tailor-made applications, software, and weapons. In the event of the IAF acquiring Gripen, it will have the choice to integrate even Indian weapons and missiles, among others.

The level of software upgradation and customization is one of the greatest benefits of the Gripen avionics architecture. “We can either add new functionality by developing new software applications to run on current hardware; the existing avionics computers, or slightly adapt the current platform software to upgrade the hardware for performance. We don’t necessarily have to change both. The fighter won’t be spending a lot of time on the ground for time consuming requalification of the entire aircraft, so it’s available for the next mission quickly," says Ivanic.