Saab has brought its Gripen E cockpit simulator to CANSEC as part of a ramped-up effort to promote the aircraft for Canada’s Future Fighter Capability Project (FFCP) requirement.
Following an initial outing to India’s DefExpo show last month, the simulator and its wide-area display (WAD) is making only its second public appearance.
Measuring 48x20cm (19x8in), the high-definition touchscreen WAD dominates the Gripen E’s cockpit. It is the primary flight and tactical display, presenting information that can be tailored to meet the exact needs of the pilot throughout all phases of flight, as well as relevant tactical data. The avionics that drive the display imagery automatically fuse data from the aircraft’s sensors, as well as information from off-board sources. Canada announced it would launch a new fighter competition in November 2016, and officially launched FFCP last December with a requirement for 88 aircraft.
Saab had declined to offer the Gripen for earlier iterations of the requirement, but the FFCP promised a more conducive procurement environment. With Boeing (Super Hornet), Dassault (Rafale), Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Lockheed Martin (F-35), Saab was named as an eligible supplier in February, and face-to-face discussions began in March.
A full RFP for the government-to- government deal is expected in spring 2019, with contract award scheduled for 2021/22. First deliveries are slated for 2025, with initial operational capability a year later. Full operational capability is scheduled for 2031.
Saab views the Gripen E/F as a perfect fit for Canada, noting several parallels with Sweden’s own requirements for the aircraft, particularly in terms of prolonged Arctic operations and those from distant forward operating bases.
The aircraft is being promoted with lower predicted life-cycle costs than its rivals while offering high levels of capability through its advanced systems, which include AESA radar.
A major factor being highlighted by Saab is the ability of ‘Team Sweden’ to provide what the company calls a “once in a lifetime industrial offset package” that includes technology transfer and the ability for Canada’s aerospace and associated industries to participate fully in the development, production/assembly, flight test and lifetime support of the country’s own aircraft.
To underline the levels of involvement that are possible, Saab points to Brazil, where a production and assembly facility has been established to produce the greater majority of the 36 Gripen E/Fs ordered by the Brazilian air force. Local industry is deeply involved in developing systems for the Gripen E/F, including the wide-area display, which is a product of Elbit’s Brazilian subsidiary AEL Sistemas. The primary Brazilian industrial partner, Embraer, is also spearheading the development of the Gripen F twoseat version.