How Gripen Dominates the Electronic Warfare
With more than 50 years of experience in developing electronic warfare technology, Saab is well placed to offer EW solutions that can be used on a variety of platforms i.e., land, air, and naval.
The latest version of Gripen has been developed keeping in mind the signal environment of today which keeps changing at a rapid pace. The battlefield of today has a greater number of signals, both military and civilian, as compared to the yesteryears. This is why Gripen has the latest EW system which listens, identifies, and gives the pilot a chance to react at the right time.
The history of EW systems development in Sweden goes back to the Cold War era. Sweden, being geographically situated between the two military blocks NATO and the Warzaw pact, realised the need to be self-sufficient in terms of developing EW capabilities. Ever since, research and development in the domain hasn’t stopped for Saab.
Gripen E/F’s EW Suite
Gripen E/F comes with a combination of passive sensors as well as active jamming. The IRST, for example, does not emit and signals and hence can track and identify targets without giving the aircraft's position away. Located on the front of Gripen, the sensor is looking forward in a wide sector registering heat emissions from other aircraft, helicopters and from objects on the ground and sea surface.
The AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, on the other hand, uses an array of TRMs (Transmitter-Receiver Modules) allowing more range and adding more speed. Because of multiple antennas, the radar can simultaneously and independently track different targets, and also track targets independently of search volumes.
As compared to the more frequently used Gallium Arsenide semiconductor, AESA uses Gallium Nitride (GaN) which generates less heat, and has the capacity to operate at high voltages, which means that when the wattage goes up, the component size goes down as well, leading to better jamming range. It also offers better bandwidth and higher output power than other materials.
One of the most important aspect of the Gripen E/F’s EW system is that the fighters use networked sensors, both onboard and from other platforms. This gives the pilot an ability to silently geolocate threats, and be the first one to react. The networked sensors help the Gripen pilot handle the most advanced threats including Su-57 and S-400. Overall, Gripen’s EW suite has the capabilities to operate in the most hostile environments while ensuring high survivability.