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Saab Global

Adapt, upgrade and overcome

4 min read

Continuous Operational Relevance ensured by
Gripen E’s unique Adaptability



To enable efficient combat winning operations in the rapidly evolving threat environment of today, operational adaptability is becoming an increasingly essential attribute. In order for fighters to successfully complete all required missions and to continue doing so, a rapid way to implement upgrades is a vital capability. In battle, your enemy is constantly attempting to find new ways to challenge and undermine your capabilities, to find and exploit any weak points. This is particularly true when considering the war in the electromagnetic spectrum, specifically with reference to Electronic Warfare (EW) system capabilities.

During peace time, a standard procedure for most military forces is to employ means and methods to safe-guard and protect critical combat capabilities. This is normally done by restricting the use of systems such as the EW-suite (operational transmissions, emitter modes, frequencies and jamming techniques), true sensor- and weapons performance (kinematic ranges, sensor and weapon modes) as well as certain aspects of war fighting tactics, techniques and procedures [TTPs], until really needed.

In reality, this means that the enemy’s most potent capabilities would remain hidden; to be used at full operational effect only when deemed necessary in times of real conflict or war. Additionally, to ensure continued protection of fighting systems’ performance and to maintain an efficient capability to sustain the fight in the short, medium and longer term, real hostile system capabilities would typically only be released selectively by the foe. For instance, in times of an escalating conflict, day-by-day, new threat emission modes would be introduced in order to confuse and threaten your defences. To counter this, it is crucial to operate a fighter system that will allow quick and effective adaptation to the ever-changing environment presented in the modern battlespace by the opponent.

The War Fighter in Control


Gripen E’s state-of-the-art sensor suite has the ability to constantly see, listen, observe, analyse and identify emitters. Once new threat signals are picked up, they are quickly passed to intelligence units for further analysis. This ensures the ability to very rapidly upgrade threat parameters - to successfully classify, identify and counter any new threat – ready for the next day or even for the next mission. But not only that – with Gripen E, the air forces will have the capability to manage and upgrade behaviours and performance of important tactical sensor-, weapons- and decision support systems, to fit their unique operational needs and requirements. Furthermore, this does not only apply to the aircraft’s tactical systems, it brings modularity to other platform systems as well. The built-in flexibility and avionics design offers ability to perform very affordable system upgrades, over the platform’s entire lifecycle, moving away from costly, lengthy traditional “mid-life” or “Block update” programmes. i.e. Adapting quickly to stay operationally relevant.

In Gripen E, all this comes as a “built-in feature”. Its core architecture design was conceived from the outset using a new fundamental philosophy of delivering full adaptability and flexibility. With this unique approach, Gripen E is a continuously evolving system, almost like a living creature. The completely new avionics structure - where core flight critical systems are separated from the tactical systems in the Main Mission Computer - provides a safe, very fast and agile means of adaptation and upgrade, without the need for timely laboursome air worthiness verification and re-validation, which is still a requirement for all other fighter platforms today.

Finally, as technology and capability today evolve at such a fast pace, traditional system upgrade programmes risk war fighters having to use outdated capabilities, not fit for purpose in the modern evolving battlespace. Imagine yourself being involved in a traditional gigantic manufacturer “Block update process” driven by a multi-national group of user nations and design authorities that dictate the terms and conditions for capability development roadmaps? In contrast, the choice can be yours. You can be in control - of technology, capability and the timeline - where the ultimate requirement is to remain operationally relevant, for any mission, anywhere, 24/7.

This is the Gripen E design goal from the start; an incremental development approach, with minimum risk to deliver required capability, efficiently managing effort, timelines and cost, in comparison to competitor programmes. To enable continuous operational relevance through life, with all the necessary capabilities to manage the full spectrum, to deliver Air Dominance for decades to come. With the war fighters in control.