Both operational testing and evaluation (OTE) pilots with the Swedish Air Force (SwAF) and the company's own test pilots are highly complimentary of the next-generation Saab Gripen E fighter. "It is a happy coincidence that both the manufacturer and the customer - in this case the SwAF - have almost identical levels of enthusiasm for a new product," said a Saab representative.
The first Gripen E is undergoing high-speed taxi tests and is expected to make a first flight by the end of June. While the aircraft has several major performance related advancements as part of its design such as the new GE F414G engine and more fuel capacity, the pilots emphasise that one of the aircraft's major non-kinetic force multipliers is its advanced set of electronic onboard systems.
One of the standout improvements is the Gripen E's electronic warfare (EW) system, which takes advantage of the aircraft's fully-digital architecture. This and the more powerful jammer-emitter capability, which is made possible by the integrated set of jamming transmitters, radar warning receivers, and the Selex AESA radar set, make for a more powerful EW profile.
"The configuration of the EW system for the Gripen E allows you to focus the jamming signal in a narrower band, so the signal itself is stronger and directed at an individual specific threat," said one of the Gripen test pilots. The previous EW system produced a broader frequency band signal, which was designed to counter several threats at once.
The Gripen E's new EW system uses three types of signal generators to obscure the existence of the aircraft or cause confusion about its location and/or existence so that an adversary cannot choose a proper firing solution. The three types of signal generators are Digital Radio Frequency Memory (DRFM), Doppler, and Noise. DRFM emulates the signal of the radar that makes contact with the aircraft and then mirrors it back so that it appears to the operator on the other side that the radar has encountered nothing.
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