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The Cockpit of the Future

3 min read

Gripen E is said to be a pilot’s dream fighter. Be it a complex mission scenario, regular reconnaissance or training, a pilot needs to make split-second decisions. The informational support that Gripen E provides to its pilot facilitates his decision-making to such an extent that he can focus more on making good tactical decisions instead of spending time interpreting all the information available. All this is made possible by Gripen E's advanced cockpit which has the Wide Area Display (WAD) and Head-Up Display (HUD).

Gripen Cockpit

The Wide Area Display (WAD) in Gripen E is a panoramic high-resolution screen that allows intelligent presentation of information. The single screen replaces three large displays of the older version and presents the pilot with a large panoramic view of the area surrounding the aircraft. The information display on the WAD includes mission routes, approaching threats and a lot more coming in from sensors, radars and data feeds from other aircraft. It also suggests handling of the aircraft such as deployment of Gripen’s counter measure systems, weapon selection etc.

“The sensor and weapon ranges are getting longer so the modern battlespace covers bigger areas. To be able to cover that area in your tactical display you have to zoom out. It is a challenge to both get an overview of the battlespace and also get the level of detail that you need. WAD gives you that possibility,” says Jonas Hjelm, Head of Saab Business Area Aeronautics.

Gripen E’s cockpit blends the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) and Wide Area Display (WAD) with a Head-Up Display (HUD). The HUD is a transparent display that presents data without taking away the pilot's attention from the main viewpoints. The pilot can even choose to fly without the HMD, in which case he will still have the HUD to rely on for mission information.

Advanced Human Machine Interface

Results in the modern battlespace are determined by the level of situational awareness a pilot has. With its highly advanced Human Machine Interface (HMI), Gripen E presents the right tactical information to the pilot in a manner that is easy to interpret. With the help of machine learning techniques, Gripen can cluster and analyse a wealth of data and convert it into mission-critical information for the pilot. It presents the information in the form of uncomplicated, relevant symbols, sounds or speech messages, depending on the mode. The pilot only has to glance at the WAD to take a calculated decision.

Gripen E is designed keeping the pilot in mind. For Saab, the advanced human-machine collaboration is meant to ensure that the platform and pilot work together seamlessly, writes Jamie Hunter of The Drive. “When it comes to sensor fusion, this is all about maintaining the absolute maximum situational awareness. You can have the greatest kinetic performance in the world, but without situational awareness, you’re a sitting duck. In Gripen E we talk about transparent fusion. I need to know what sensors/platforms are providing which data and what the quality of that data is, to be able to make the best possible decision! It is also crucial to know what the opponent knows about me, in the decision making,” Saab Gripen E test pilot Robin Nordlander tells Hunter.