While complex high-end jet fighters like the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, dominate the headlines when it comes to the global fighter market, not every country needs or even wants a top-of-the-line warplane. There is a sizeable market for lower cost alternatives. It is this market that Sweden’s Saab Gripen E dominates. The Gripen E is a deadly fighter jet that is cheap, easy to maintain and can kill anything.
Gripen E is equipped with a highly integrated and sophisticated sensor suite including an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST), Electronic Warfare (EW) suite and datalink technology, which, when combined gives the pilot, and co-operating forces exactly the information needed at all times.
Modern battlefields are riddled with unannounced threats – coming from any direction at any time. In cluttered air-spaces, pilots need to be aware and highly reactive, and fighter planes need to be equipped with Integrated Air Defense Systems.
The Gripen E/F is not only capable of these requirements but can deploy active and passive measures to disrupt the enemy’s tactics and functionality. These measures can distract the opponent, making it incapable of sticking to its plan, and annihilate it as well. Gripen E/F is compatible with recent developments of artilleries and missiles.
The Gripen E can be equipped with 7 Meteors, 4 on the wings and 3 under the centre fuselage which makes the Gripen most combat capable beyond visual range fighter jet.
The Gripen can be maintained by 1 qualified engineer and 5 non-qualified assistance conscripted from the air force. The Gripen can fully A2A operational just under 10 minutes on the runway or a highway.
“Starting with Air Defence, let’s suppose you have a small-ish nation, where the Government does not have global dominance in its agenda. For such a nation, the key aim is deterrence, ensuring that any country wishing to invade or dominate you cannot easily do so.
For such a nation, Gripen/Meteor might be the ultimate air defender, especially if you have a well-integrated air defence system and dispersed bases. Never being far from the border or a base, fuel volume and even weapons load doesn’t matter so much, because you’ll scoot back to your cave and re-arm/refuel. Having a big stick, however, is great, because you can defeat threats while keeping out of their missile range.” Said Richard Smith the Head of Marketing & Sales for the Saab Gripen.
Gripen is equipped with many modern sensor systems, modern AESA radar, and EW systems. Technology will win the future fight. The platform is equipped with new software and hardware, in line with the high speed of technology enhancements. The Gripen is natively integrated with high-end platforms such as Swordfish and GlobalEye airborne surveillance solutions.
The Gripen has become a world-leader in maximising the benefits of using data links, and connectivity operationally in “wolf pack” tactics. In a pack of Gripen, one fighter jet sees opponents all see the opponents at the same time. The information be shared with fighter jets, AEW&C, C2, Navy ships, MPA, satellite, ground troops, and ground-based radar stations.
The improved EW system in Gripen E, MFS-EW (Multi-Functional System), is based on the EW product family called Arexis. Arexis is based on wideband digital technology specifically developed for robustness in the very complex signal environment of today. The core technologies in Arexis are ultra-wideband digital receivers and digital radio frequency memory (DRFM) devices, gallium nitride (GaN) solid-state active electronically scanned array (AESA) jammer transmitters and interferometric direction finding systems.
The Gripen has a greater fuel capacity, 20 per cent more thrust, more pylons, in-flight refuelling capability and increased take-off weight. It can reach Mach 2 (1,522 mph, 2,450 km/h) at high altitude with a turnaround time between missions of just ten minutes.
Gripen E has a more powerful GE F414 engine, a 40% increase in optimized internal fuel capacity that delivers the excellent range and endurance (1,500 km combat range, and 4,000 km ferry range).
Bang for Bucks
Selling for about $85 million excluding arms, the Gripen E is slightly cheaper than Rafale or Typhoon and significantly cheaper than the single-engined F-35, which is marketed for stealth.
Gripen E/F selected by Brazil
After a long and exhaustive competitive process, which included consideration of Boeing’s Super Hornet, Eurofighter Typhoon, DassaultRafale and others, the Brazilian Government in 2014 selected Saab’s Gripen E/F to form the next generation fighter capability for the Brazilian Air Force. The US$4.5 billion award calls for the delivery of 36 Gripen E/F aircraft (28 Gripen E, and 8 Gripen F). Brazil ordered additional 36 Gripen E/F totaling 72 Gripen to be delivered.
Saab’s technology transfer and partnership with Brazil in providing the opportunity for a country to develop its aerospace sector to the next level also creates a highly attractive proposition and industrial model that could be replicated elsewhere.
Gripen E/F selected by Philippines Air Force
Recent reports from the Philippines that President Rodrigo Duterte has now approved the Multi-role Fighter (MRF) acquisition in principle suggest that the programme may move ahead soon in line with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) ‘second horizon’ modernization programme budgeted $5.46 billion between financial year 2018–2023.
Funding for second horizon, which includes the Multi-role Fighter (MRF) as one of its key acquisition projects, has been set at PHP289 billion (USD5.46 billion). The Philippines Air Force (PAF) intends to procure two squadrons of Gripen E/F over two batches.
The Philippines Air Force would be the second Southeast Asian Air Force to acquire Gripens. The Royal Thai Air Force has purchased a dozen Gripens from the Swedish aerospace company Saab. The Royal Thai Air Force ordered additional six Gripen.
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