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Gripen > Posts > Fighter Aircraft Design: Then and Now

Sindahl2.jpg"If you go back to 1950s, what was important was how fast you could fly an aircraft and how well you could control a combat situation. But that is not enough for today,” says Lennart Sindahl, Senior Executive Vice President and Head of Business Area Aeronautics, at a Saab presentation on Innovation on the occasion of Nobel Week in New Delhi, India.

Sindahl, in his speech explained how aircraft designing and manufacturing process have undergone a change in the last few decades.

“Situational awareness is extremely important in a combat situation now. You need to have a very good view of the environment around you. So consequently the sensors have become very important.”

“We have been working since the early 1980s on the Gripen system. And we are now contracted by the Swedish government to develop the third generation of Gripen. We started working in the 1980s, building a very Swedish Gripen. Then we saw an opportunity to export the fighter aircraft, and we knew we needed to develop a new version of Gripen. Technology was going forward, customer’s needs were going forward and that is why we started working on Gripen C/D,” Sindahl says.

Sindahl adds that when a system is designed, it should be designed for many years and hence one needs to be very flexible with weapon integration, surveillance system etc.

“In the 1950s when you designed an aircraft, you could say that five per cent of the design would be useless soon as technology was growing very quickly. This has actually not changed very much, but what has changed is that when we design the outside of an aircraft today, it would last for decades. But the inside of the aircraft would change as computers, datalink, sensors etc would change. So you need to design something that can be upgraded, otherwise it would be very costly for a nation to change a system,” he says.

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