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Saab Global

Gripen: Suitable for Both Hot and Cold Climate

3 min read

India's topography is as diverse as its people. From the blistering heat of Rajasthan's deserts to the chilling cold of Leh's high-altitude regions, the country has many extreme weather conditions, often at its borders. 
Consequently, the Indian Air Force requires fighter aircraft that can overcome extreme weather and perform effortlessly. 

Gripen Suitable for Hot and Cold Climate

But how do you land 16 tonnes of metal and high-tech electronics at 180 knots on an ice-covered runway? Or how do you prevent hot and dry climates from affecting the performance of fighters?

"India is a country that has both climate extremes. There is Ladakh, which has -15 degrees, and Thar, where temperatures go as high as 50 degrees. By design, Gripen functions seamlessly amid extreme cold or hot weather scenarios, making it an ideal choice for the Indian Air Force," Kent-Åke Molin, Sales and Marketing Director at Saab, says.
Let's start with the cold climate. Cold weather conditions may create several challenges for any fighter. After all, there are hundreds of sophisticated systems working together. From the accumulation of ice on the aircraft's exterior to sensors exhibiting sensitivity to sub-zero temperatures, various factors contribute to the complexity.
Over the last few years, as part of the World Wide Climate campaign for the Gripen E, Saab has carried out extensive environmental tests, demonstrating the aircraft's resilience in harsh conditions. In the course of these tests, an extensive array of start-up procedures and safety checks is undertaken. Sensors are tested to ensure they show reasonable metrics. Subsequent tests focus on valves and hydraulic cylinders, assessing the speed at which components operate in different external temperatures.
"Unlike most contemporary aircraft, which struggle with cold starts and high-altitude flight, Gripen E effortlessly navigates these challenges, thanks to its inherent Arctic DNA and purposeful design. Besides take-offs, landing, braking, flight operations and maintenance amidst icy winters are not a problem," Kent-Åke says.  
Like harsh winters, excessive heat can significantly affect a plane's efficiency and safety. All power system components, such as batteries, capacitors, power semiconductors and generators, are usually heat sensitive and need thermal management measures.
When Saab decided to export Gripen fighters across the globe, emphasis was placed on adapting the aircraft to different climates, not just the Arctic weather. From South Africa to Thailand and now making its mark in Brazil, Gripen stands tall as an adaptable fighter that can deliver in a spectrum of environments across the globe.
As part of the World Wide Climate campaign, Gripen also recently underwent a hot-weather flight test campaign in Brazil. The initial results were positive and confirmed what Saab had already predicted - Gripen can perform in scorching hot weather as well.