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Saab Offers IAF Gripen E with the most modern array of missiles

5 min read

The future of air combat is all about a new generation of missiles, a swarm of weaponized drones, artificial intelligence missiles that find their own targets as well as missiles that can beat AI-based missile defence. As BVR missiles, drone swarms and combat clouds become the watchwords of air combat, the cornerstone of an air force will be aircraft that can not only harness the power of cloud combat and advancing EW systems but also be able to quickly integrate a diversity of weapon systems.

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So how does Gripen E adapt to new missile types and how well does it integrate current missiles?

According to Kent-Åke Molin, Sales and Marketing Director at Saab, it is evident that the battlespace has become highly contested and is expected to get much worse in future. The long-range missiles and advanced ground-based air defence systems pose a threat to our pilots, making them a potential target from the moment of take-off. To give them freedom of action to successfully operate in this environment and return to base safe, four things become imperative:

  • Superior situational awareness of enemy threats and target, obtained by fusing on and off-board sensors into one coherent picture
  • An advanced decision support system that helps pilots take correct decisions faster
  • An offensive electronic warfare system that can effectively jam and spoof enemy assets
  • Access to the latest advanced weapon suite available

Gripen E, unlike any other aircraft, can be armed with any weapon of any provenance, including that of Indian choice. The unique avionics design, together with standardized interfaces and open architecture orientation result in faster and easier integration of new weapons to the fighter. For instance, Gripen was the test bed and first fighter to be operational with the Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile (BVRAAM) Meteor missile. Today Gripen is the fighter that really exploits the full potential with Meteor.

According to Kent-Åke, Gripen’s superior radar coverage and netcentric abilities with two-way datalink is sure to revolutionize BVR combat and tactics. Gripen would be a real game changer for India.

Gripen can be integrated with a large ensemble of weapons that include missiles, bombs, and pods. From guided glide bombs for precision engagement with low collateral damage, to long-range and agile air-to-air missiles and heavy anti-ship armaments, a Gripen operator can integrate any weapon of their choice to Gripen. This is made possible by its hardware-agnostic split avionics design which allows updates or changes to be made without the need to re-certify the flight critical software.

“It's much faster to integrate a new weapon on the Gripen platform than any other platform,” says Johan Segertoft, Deputy Head of Programme Management, Gripen E/F, Saab.

According to Lte Col Av Maurício Côrte Real, Manager of the Fox Group- Brazilian Air Force, each mission is different just as each weapon has its own characteristics. “Depending on the scenario and on the target, you have to select a certain type of weapon, according to the damage that you want to inflict or avoid,” he adds.

With its combat performance and power projection capability, Gripen E will provide the IAF with deterrence power in the region. Even more important, Gripen E can be armed with Indian-developed missiles or missiles of any provenance, unlike any other aircraft.

“Any weapon of Indian choice can be integrated with the Gripen fighter,’’ said Mats Palmberg, Head of Gripen India Campaign. “Gripen can also be equipped with Israeli, European, American weapons, giving it an edge in the ongoing MRFA fraction of competitor costs. “Besides the Meteor, IRIS-T, A-Darter, and AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Airto-Air Missile), other missiles like the Astra, Python 4/5, Derby, AIM-9X Sidewinder, ASRAAM and others can also be easily integrated to Gripen,” stated Palmberg.

Guided bombs such as the Spice 1000, GBU-49 (American), Paveway III GBU-22/-24, Paveway II GBU-10/-12/-16, GBU-39 SDB I and II can be easily integrated to Gripen. As far as air-to-air missiles are concerned, IRIS-T, A-Darter, Python 4/5, the AIM-9X Sidewinder, and AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) have been successfully tested on Gripen.

Gripen E can carry nine missiles and 16 bombs as well as a large suite of other weapons and payloads. In addition, its inherent design enables easy integration of new weapon systems and stores for all types of missions, from air-to-air missiles to reconnaissance and heavy air-to ground armament.

A specific feature of the aircraft is that it is programmed to deploy systems with different weights, centre of gravity and shapes with different aerodynamic features. Furthermore, its split avionics allows weapon integration and tactical system software updates or changes which can be made without the need to recertify the flight critical software.

These unique features, together with standardised interfaces and open architecture orientation, results in faster and easier integration of new weapons on the fighter. In its offering to India, Saab maintains an all-inclusive fighter package that will meet the IAF’s requirements at a fraction of competitor costs.