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The Smart Fighter

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Hungarian Air Force Gripen fleet has two new feathers in its cap. The aircraft recently completed 20, 000 flight hours, and they are all set to begin the second round of Baltic Air Policing missions over Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. To celebrate both milestones, the Hungarian Air Force hosted a celebration at its airbase in Kecskemet last week.

This is the second time since 2015 that the Hungarian Air Force will conduct the Baltic Air Policing. The Spanish Air Force’s F-18 fighters and The Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter aircraft will also augment the mission.

The Hungarian Gripen’s deployment for this mission will also be special for another reason - it will be the 50th NATO fighter detachment to be deployed since 2004 for the Baltic Air Policing mission.

The Hungarian Air Force Gripens will lead the Baltic Air Policing for the next four months.

Read the full story here.

Photo Courtesy: Topidoc 

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.


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 ...


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 ...

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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Saab looks forward to a full swing Gripen test flight programme this year, with more Gripen test aircraft and production aircraft near completion, says Eddy De La Motte, head of Saab’s Gripen E/F business unit, during Saab’s annual Gripen Seminar held in Stockholm on March 27.

Several test aircraft will be ready for their test flights before mid-year. Saab will also get the “Gripen Demo” (Gripen E/F demonstrator 39-7) airframe up and running again. 

According to Eddy, the Gripen Demo, which now has the avionics of gripen E, will be used as a “flying simulator rig.” This will improve the pace of Gripen E testing programme.

Eddy says that Saab is very happy with the way Gripen E production programme has progressed. “We are on track with Gripen E production. Once the new production system is fully established, we will be able to complete up to 24 aircraft per year,” he added.  

The first four production Gripen Es are currently in final assembly at Saab's Linkoping site. More tests will be conducted before the aircraft are delivered to the Swedish and the Brazilian Air Force towards the end of 2019, scaling up the programme further.

During the Gripen seminar, other speakers also gave an update on the Gripen testing programme.  Jonas Hjelm, head of Saab’s aeronautics business area, for example, talked about the various tests that were conducted last year under the Gripen E programme.

“We have concentrated a lot on the flight envelope with the first ...

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