Five things you should know about Gripen C/D
The abilities of the Gripen C series have been proven for decades now. Here are five facts about the aircraft that tell us how it is built to handle complex battlespaces, stay smart, and give its operators and edge over their opponents.
1. A Gripen fleet means high availability
For a fighter aircraft operator, it is of utmost importance to have aircraft that are in the air, and not in the hangar. As compared to several contemporary fighters, Gripen C/D offers higher availability. It just takes ten minutes to refuel, re-arm and turnaround the aircraft for an air-to-air mission. Gripen C/D can also be operated out of remote areas, courtesy of its short take-off and landing (STOL) capabilities. The fighter can take off from roads that are just 16m wide and 500m long, and land on a 600m long road. The end result: high sortie rates and wide area coverage.
2. The Gripen pilot has superior situational awareness
Gripen C/D’s superior electronic warfare system replete with sophisticated datalink technology and a long-range multi-mode pulse doppler radar make for very efficient pilot support. Every data is transferred via sensor fusion to offer the pilot clutter-free, intelligent information that he or she can actually use during a live mission. With an advanced human-machine interface, the pilot can sort and view this data as per the need of the minute.
3. Gripen offer high weapon flexibility
Unlike many other fighter systems, a Gripen operator is not stuck with weapons from one country. Gripen has been designed to offer easy integration of weapons from around the globe including long-and short-range and agile air-to-air missiles to heavy air to surface missiles and guided bombs.
4. Gripen C/D is fully NATO interoperable
Gripen C/D has been designed to be fully interoperable with NATO. Its Link 16 is a NATO standard tactical datalink used by several users to support coalition operations. Currently, two NATO-member countries, the Czech Republic and Hungary are operating Gripen. Both countries have sent their Gripens for several peacetime preparedness missions and surveillance missions under the NATO Integrated Air and Missile Defence System so far.
5. Relevant for years to come
Gripen C/D is a fighter for the future. Instead of huge mid-life upgrades, Gripen C/D has been designed for continuous upgrades. Together with Gripen customers, Saab keeps working on step-wise improvements. The MS20 update, for instance, offers both hardware and software enhancements to Gripen operators. The upgrade package includes the integration of MBDA Meteor air-to-air missile and small GBU-39 SDB bombs, targeting electro-optical pod Litening III to name a few, and several software updates. The MS20 update can be customised as per the Gripen operator’s requirements, giving the fleet the capabilities to tackle new challenges.