Can Gripen incorporate 5th and 6th generation technologies?
The Indian Air Force Chief indicated last year that the future IAF aircraft should be able to incorporate 5th and 6th generation technologies. According to Mats Palmberg, Head of Gripen India campaign, Saab’s Gripen E has been designed for quick updates which means that any new technology, no matter which generation it falls under, can be easily integrated with the fighter.
The definition of a fifth or sixth generation fighter two decades back was different from what it is today. The parameters keep changing. A true smart fighter is the one which can evolve to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
The ability to embrace change was one of the important factors taken into account while designing Gripen E. The fighter, with its smart split avionics, has separated flight-critical and mission critical parts. This allows quick, easy updates without the need to recertify the flight-critical parts. Furthermore, all components are logically separated so as with the iPhone, the software “apps” can be removed, replaced, or upgraded without affecting the others. It also enables hardware to be upgraded without having to change the software.
This means that systems updates can be made much faster, at less cost and at less risk. Changing core computers or software, which usually takes years or decades, would be done in days or months. As a result, any new technology can be integrated as and when available, with unpanelled seamlessness.
The speed and ease with which new changes are incorporated in Gripen can be explained with an example from the area of Human Machine Collaboration, an area which is rapidly progressing and new innovative functionality can become available on an almost daily basis. As soon as adversaries change their tactical behavior or new threats are identified, the Gripens AI-enabled decision support suite will be upgraded to sustain a superior situational awareness and combat effectiveness. Such changes would take merely hours to be incorporated throughout the operator's entire Gripen fleet.
With its unique modular avionics architecture, Gripen gets generational debate off the table.