1 avril 2020 | International, Aérospatial

Saab delivers virtual Gripen E program update

by Chris Thatcher

The Saab Gripen E test program has surpassed 300 flight hours and the company is preparing to deliver production aircraft to the Swedish Air Force in 2020.

“We are proceeding according to plan and are delivering according to our customers' expectations,” Eddy de la Motte, the head of Saab's Gripen E/F business unit, told webinar viewers during a briefing on Mar. 26.

The annual update on the Gripen program was moved to an online forum in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Although Sweden has for now adopted a

notably different approach to addressing the spread of COVID-19 than its neighbours – most businesses remain open – defence and aerospace journalists and other interested attendees were confined to virtual participation.

“Saab is not one of those companies that is feeling immediate consequences because of the situation given a large order backlog and the business model that we use,” said Ellen Molin, head of Business Area Support Services. “We are doing everything we can to work on development and production.”

The Gripen E is among three fighter jets contending to replace the Royal Canadian Air Force fleet of CF-188 Hornets. The others are the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II and the Block III Boeing FA-18E/F Super Hornet. The Gripen E is the only one not yet in service.

The briefing was an opportunity for Saab to highlight the progress of the flight test program and forthcoming deliveries to the first customers, Sweden and Brazil. The test program now includes six aircraft and will be expanding to two sites this year involving test pilots from Saab, the Swedish defence materiel administration, and the Swedish Air Force.

The accelerated test and verification program will be “more efficient,” said de la Motte. “We are now shifting focus to more testing on the tactical systems and the sensors.”

Saab had high expectations for the Gripen E's enhanced fused sensor suite and decision-support capabilities before flight testing began, he said. But the Active Electronically-Scanned Array (AESA) radar, passive infrared search and track (IRST) sensor, tailored datalink and multi-function electronic warfare (EW) system “are preforming better than expected.”

Testing has also included an electronic jammer pod to complement the internal active EW system, flights with the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, and firing of the short-range IRIS-T air-to-air missile.

The first production aircraft rolled off the line in Linköping, Sweden earlier this year, and the second and third will be delivered to Sweden later in 2020.

Among other milestones, Saab turned over the first test aircraft to the Brazilian Air Force in August 2019. Its arrival in Brazil is scheduled for the end of 2020. Brazil has ordered 36 jets, 28 in the single-seat E variant and eight in the two-seat F model.

In advance of the Brazilian flight test program and the launch of a Gripen flight test centre in Brazil, Saab has transferred aircraft intellectual property and knowledge to hundreds of Brazilian technicians, test engineers and pilots at its production facility in Linköping. Furthermore, the Gripen Design and Development Centre in Brazil has cut the first metal on the F-model two seat variant, to be delivered in 2023.

Saab is also hoping to expand its customer base as the Gripen E enters service. In February, the company demonstrated two of its test aircraft at Pirkkala Air Base in southern Finland as part of the HX Challenge, the first stage of a capability assessment of five aircraft vying to replace the Finnish Air Force fleet of F/A-18 C and D Hornets. The Gripen is up against the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, Lockheed Martin F-35A and Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.

The two aircraft were demonstrated alongside a Saab GlobalEye airborne early warning and control platform, a multi-role air, maritime and ground surveillance system based on the Bombardier Global 6000/6500 jet. As part of a package with Finland, Saab is proposing to transfer intellectual property to operate maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, spares production, final assembly and a development and sustainment centre.

“We fully understand the needs of national security and the ability to control critical technology,” said de la Motte.

A similar offer is likely to be part of Saab's pitch to Canada when the request for proposals closes on June 30. In March, the company announced a “Gripen for Canada Team” that includes IMP Aerospace & Defence, CAE, Peraton Canada and GE Aviation. De la Motte said the proposal for 88 Gripen E jets would include “high skilled jobs” as well as aircraft and systems built by Canadians.

Both de la Motte and Molin emphasized the “smart and cost-efficient support concept inherent in the aircraft design” that now includes the ability to 3D print spare parts for battle damage repair in a forward hangar to allow grounded aircraft to return to a main operating base.

That efficiency was underscored by Col Torgny Fälthammar, head of the Gripen program for the Air Staff of the Swedish Air Force (SAF). A former Saab 37 Viggen and Gripen C fighter pilot, he noted the SAF “operates in a domain where the time to react is sometimes very short – the aircraft and systems we face have a very high velocity.”

Since Sweden can't field superior numbers, “we have to strive for the best balance between technology, competence and tactics, and having the relevant numbers... [and] we believe we have found that in the Gripen system.”

The Gripen E will introduce “high tech, state-of-the-art systems,” he added. But “being a small country, we always have to think about money and affordability.”


Sur le même sujet

  • CAE awarded US$455M subcontract for U.S. Army Flight School Training Support Services

    31 mai 2023 | International, Aérospatial

    CAE awarded US$455M subcontract for U.S. Army Flight School Training Support Services

    The contract, valued at US$455M, supports the recent US$1.7B award to GDIT by the U.S. Army Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training and Instrumentation

  • US Army official reveals watercraft, networks as logistics focus areas

    11 avril 2023 | International, Autre défense

    US Army official reveals watercraft, networks as logistics focus areas

    The Army is taking steps to master contested logistics by focusing on key modernization requirements taking shape now.

  • U.S. Army extends contract for Bradley Fighting Vehicle upgrades

    9 octobre 2019 | International, Terrestre

    U.S. Army extends contract for Bradley Fighting Vehicle upgrades

    October 8, 2019 - The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract modification worth up to $269 million for continued production of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV). The award for an additional 168 upgraded Bradley A4 Infantry Fighting Vehicles is part of the Army's combat vehicle modernization strategy and helps ensure force readiness of the Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT). The Bradley A4 is equipped with an enhanced powertrain that maximizes mobility and increases engine horsepower, providing rapid movement in reaction to combat or other adverse situations. Wide angle Driver's Vision Enhancer, improved Force XXI Battle Command Bridge and Below (FBCB2) software integration improves friendly and enemy vehicle identification, enhancing situational awareness. The addition of a High Speed Slip Ring, greater network connectivity and Smart Displays that simultaneously display classified and unclassified information also improve situational awareness. “The Bradley is one of the most critical vehicles in the Army's ABCT today because it allows the Army to transport troops to the fight, and provide covering fire to suppress enemy vehicles and troops,” said Scott Davis, vice president of combat vehicle programs for BAE Systems. “Upgrading to the A4 configuration provides soldiers with more power to increase their speed and ability to integrate enhanced technology to ensure they maintain the advantage on the battlefield.” Previously awarded funding for initial production of 164 Bradley A4 vehicles allowed BAE Systems to begin production. The award of this option brings the total production funding to $578 million. It includes upgrades and associated spares of two Bradley variants: the M2A4 Infantry Fighting Vehicle and the M7A4 Fire Support Team Vehicle. BAE Systems is a premiere supplier of combat vehicles to the U.S. military and international customers. The company has an extensive manufacturing network across the United States and continues to invest in it. Work on the program will take place at Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, and BAE Systems' facilities in Aiken, South Carolina; Anniston, Alabama; Minneapolis, Minnesota; San Jose, California; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania. View source version on BAE Systems: https://www.baesystems.com/en/article/u-s--army-extends-contract-for-bradley-fighting-vehicle-upgrades

Toutes les nouvelles