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Gripen E benefits from model-based development

2 min read

Gone are the days when design work was documented in drawings on paper or plastic films, to be circulated back and forth for changes and updates. With model-based development, things have changed a lot in the last 15 years. Here is how Saab uses this methodology to develop Gripen E in an efficient manner.

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The Gripen fighter aircraft is the most complex and advanced aircraft Saab has ever built. The systems are highly integrated and optimized which is extremely challenging when modifying the systems or introducing new systems or functions. To minimize the number of errors and achieve cost-effectiveness, Saab has successfully adopted a model-based design (MBD) process. This means that Gripen, if selected, can be reconfigured to India specifications very fast and in a cost-effective manner.

Ola Rignell, Chairman and Managing Director, Saab India, points out that "MBD allows for reconfigurations without affecting the airframe. Or put another way, we can rapidly upgrade Gripen’s avionics whenever new technology becomes available. The modular system requires less time, produces better quality and entails fewer tasks, which all combine to reduce costs. Moreover, the value stream in the design and production process is simplified and thus provides improved delivery precision. Savings with MBD in relation to the traditional working procedures are more than 30 percent."

Every part and manufacturing operation is defined by a 3-D model, from requirements and standards through design, manufacture and assembly and into the maintenance stage. The same model is used by all the groups involved in the design process – weight and balance, aerodynamics, weapon integration and so on. The result is that 70% of defects are discovered in the simulation stage and all groups can contribute to the solution and confirm that it will work. With earlier program tools, the design would be in flight-test by the time 70% of problems were identified.

"For Gripen E, we gained from the experience of development work on earlier Gripen variants. Thanks to the improved modelling capabilities, it was now possible to come up with a design solution and to simulate large parts of the system long before they were built," says Mats Palmberg, Head of Gripen India campaign. "The MBD system also translates into efficient industrial cooperation when working with the needs of countries like India which want to develop their indigenous manufacturing capabilities," he adds.