Saab has shifted the focus of its Gripen E/F testing away from basic flight trials towards the aircraft's tactical and sensor suites as the programme ramps up ahead of the first upcoming deliveries to Sweden and Brazil.
Speaking at Saab's annual Gripen Seminar on 26 March, the company's head of the programme, Eddy de la Motte, said that, with flight-characteristic tests having proceeded to plan, the focus is now on validating the aircraft's mission systems.
"We have six aircraft currently in flight testing and we passed 300 hours a couple of weeks ago. Flight testing is proceeding to plan and now the tactical suite and sensor systems are the testing focus - the radar, the infrared search and track [IRST], the electronic warfare [EW], and other mission systems," de la Motte said.
The Gripen E/F is fitted with the Selex ES-05 Raven active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the Selex ES 60 Skyward G-IRST. The internal EW suite comprises a very low-band antenna; an EW central unit; a quadrant receiver and transmitter on each wingtip; a receiver and power supply unit on each wingtip; and a forward and aft transmitter on the vertical stabiliser. Externally, the aircraft will be provisioned to carry a podded EW system to afford the Gripen E/F (or any other modern combat aircraft) an electronic attack (EA) capability analogous to the Boeing EA-18G Growler aircraft. The Arexis EA Jammer Pod provides forward and aft coverage to support the ingress, strike, and egress of a package of strike aircraft. It utilises a VHF/UHF surveillance and acquisition radar in the L and S bands that incorporates gallium nitride (GaN) AESA technology.
As de la Motte noted, the early results so far received have shown the systems to be performing "much better than expected".
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