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The Wide Area Display has been installed on the first Brazilian Gripen. Watch the video of the installation of cockpit display on the Brazilian fighter.

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Using artificial intelligence, additive manufacturing (3D printing), and mixed reality (augmented reality) for the development and production of Gripen, and virtual reality for training purposes, are some of the ongoing technological implementations at Saab for Gripen. During the Gripen Seminar 2019, Lisa Åbom, Chief Technology Officer, Business Area, Aeronautics at Saab, gave a detailed presentation on how these latest technologies are implemented in the making of Gripen today.

Artificial Intelligence

According to Lisa, the basic function of AI is that it takes large amount of data, processes it through an algorithm to give you an answer. Saab uses AI during both design and production phase. AI is also suitable for image recognition and can provide tactical support to pilots to make right decisions. “For instance, we collected information from different sensors that we have in the aircraft, ran it through an algorithm, and were able to predict the fuel level in one of the tanks (without using a fuel sensor). This way, with the help of AI, we can use different kinds of information to deduce the information that we’re interested in,” Lisa says.  

Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing, popularly known as 3D printing today, is used to produce the most basic as well as the more complicated parts of Gripen. For example, 3D printing can be used to optimize the design to take away the weight from certain structure part or to make specific small changes. What is really cool about additives is that you can add functionalities ...

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One of the most important milestones in the Gripen E programme in 2018 was the verification of Gripen E models, along with a series of tests that were effectively conducted.

“To be more and more certain that the models that we created in the computers, and tested in the simulators and in the rigs, are accurate when the pilots go up and fly the fighter, is very comforting. It also proves that it was the correct step to use model-based engineering as far as possible in the Gripen E programme,” says Jonas Hjelm, Head of Saab Business Area Aeronautics, at the recently held Gripen Seminar in Sweden.

Saab’s accurate computer based Gripen models are a result of all the knowledge and experience it has gathered from more than 75 years of building aircraft. Right from day one, Gripen E was conceptualized as a fighter that would be developed using the most efficient methods.

The model-based development ensures that design errors are detected and corrected at an early stage. This not only delivers cost-efficiency, but also ensures that every new aircraft is easier and quicker to assemble and develop. Model-based development also reduces the number of flying hours during testing. “We will still fly a lot, but it will be very less as compared to the testing programmes of our previous systems, some 20 years ago,” Jonas says.

"We use model-based design and engineering as a way to cut lead times and cost on Gripen E," ...

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"The joint testing with FMV is one of the best ways to accelerate the Gripen test program," says Eddy De la Motte, Head of Saab’s Gripen E/F business unit, during the Gripen Seminar held in Stockholm, Sweden.

The main objective of conducting joint tests or joint verification and validation is to eliminate similar tests in order to save resources. Joint testing allows collaboration with the customers at an early stage of development which reduces the risk of late and expensive reworking. Conducting a consolidated programme like joint testing ensures optimal and efficient usage of the combined resources available.  

Updating on the testing programme, Eddy says that Saab is testing tactical systems and sensors like IRST and AESA radars. “We have conducted a test flight with meteor already, and dropped external tanks. We will now start testing the EW system,” he says.

For Saab, joint testing is not really a new thing. Saab and FMV have coordinated testing programmes before as well. For Gripen E, ten ITTs have been established so far, in the areas of radar, IRST, decision support, aerial refueling, Mission Support System (MSS), pilot equipment/emergency systems, Electronic Warfare (EW), weapons, and operation and maintenance. 

“Instead of us and our customers flying very similar sorties at different times to get information out of the aircraft, we fly the same sortie together to get the different information we need. This way of working together with complexed developments is very important for us and it helps us ...

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According to head of Saab's Gripen Brazil business unit, Mikael Franzén, four Gripen Es have entered final assembly, out of which one is for Brazil and three are for Sweden, reports Jane's. 

"The first test aircraft for Brazil will fly later this year while the other three aircraft will serve as validation and verification aircraft for Sweden's Gripen E programme," Franzén says.

Recently, Eddy De La Motte, Head of Gripen E Programme, also gave an update on the Gripen E production at the Gripen Seminar held in Sweden on 27th March 2019. “The production programme is coming along according to the customer’s expectations. This year, we’re going to deliver the first production aircraft to Sweden and to Brazil. We will also go through the verification and validation programme in Sweden, Linkoping,” Eddy said.

Two other test aircrafts- a reworked Gripen Demo (39-7) and the latest 39-10- will also be ready for tests by mid-year this year. 

Brazil had signed a contract for the procurement of 36 Gripen aircraft in October 2014. The last Gripen fighter will be delivered to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) by 2024.

Read more here.

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In order for Gripen to stay relevant, Saab does not stay confined within the limits of aeronautical technology, but also draws inspiration from the outside world- the automotive industry, artificial intelligence in general, and the gaming industry, to name a few, according to Saab’s Chief Technology Officer Lisa Åbom.

“By looking into the future and analyzing the kind of technology that will be in use or in trend, we make sure that we have the ability to implement those technologies in our existing platforms or new platforms,” says Lisa Åbom during the Gripen seminar 2019, held in Stockholm.

She also highlights three key technology areas that are important while developing Gripen, a fighter that will stay modern in the years to come:

Compact and efficient platform

This simply means an optimum usage of all the space that is available inside the aircraft, for functions, equipment, and fuel. Also, it’s important to be ready to handle the energy part as well. “Every new sensor that is added, it needs to be powered and cooled. Energy management is crucial,” she says.

Autonomous Systems

The battle space will be much more rapid in the future and a lot of information will have to be handled much quicker. We need to find ways to help the pilot make right decisions. Autonomous systems will be able to sort out, simplify the data that is presented to the pilot, and even make some of the decisions for the pilot during the ...

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Saab presented the latest developments as well as insights of upcoming milestones in the Gripen E Programme for Brazil at a press briefing during the LAAD International Defence & Security Exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

The Brazilian Gripen E programme saw a number of achievements in 2018. “Among other things, we installed both the Wide Area Display (WAD) and the engine on the first Gripen E for Brazil. This year, the first aircraft to Brazil will be delivered to start the flight test campaign in Linköping, Sweden,” says Mikael Franzén, head of business unit Gripen Brazil, within Saab business area Aeronautics.

The Swedish Air Force also decided to equip their fighters with the WAD, the Head-Up Display (HUD), and the Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) last year.

“The Swedish and the Brazilian Gripen fighters will have the same configuration for the displays, harmonizing the programmes. This means great savings in aircraft maintenance as well as in future software development. This is a good example of the successful collaboration between Saab and the Brazilian defence industry,” adds Mikael Franzén.

Read the full story here.

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"An air battle is all about getting inside your enemy's OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act) loop," says Stefan Engstrom, former Gripen Pilot and Director, Sales & Marketing, Gripen, Business Area Aeronautics.

During the Gripen seminar held on 14th Feb, 2019, New Delhi, India, Stefan explains how Gripen’s combat capability supports the OODA loop concept. The OODA loop is a cycle that was developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel, John Boyd.

Observe

 “Gripen is packed with the latest technologies. With AESA radar, IRST and new EW sensors, a Gripen pilot will most likely be the first to detect an enemy. But you don’t work alone, you work together with other Gripens or other units. This allows you to form a network, leading to effective combat synergies. With all these systems together, you can see the unseen. After all, everything has a signature. Advanced sensors from air, ground, navy, and other systems can all be collaborated, making physical stealth irrelevant,” says Stefan.

Orient

Once the pilot has all the information, the next step is to be able to understand and use that information to win the battle. “All the accumulated information is of no use to me if I can't understand it. While operating a legacy aircraft, you will find that the information you have received, is all over the place. It's very difficult for the pilot to assimilate so much information in one single picture. But with Gripen’s smart HMI, ...

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