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The Smart Fighter

Quick Launch


Test pilots say they have the best job in the world. What do you think? Here, Mikael Olsson who is a test pilot, tells you what it is like to evaluate and test the Gripen fighter. 

Before he became a Gripen test pilot, Mikael used to be a pilot for the Swedish Air Force. After serving a number of years in the SwAF, he found himself at Saab, facing new challenges and learning new things. As a test pilot, Mikael’s job responsibilities include conducting test flights to check the in-flight operations and capabilities of Gripen. Apart from flying, he spends a lot of time at design meetings, sharing his knowledge, experience and expertise as a pilot with development engineers, helping them devise design solutions and take decisions.

There are two segments into which test flights are divided – experimental test flights and system test flights. In experimental flights, the physical capabilities and limits of the aircraft are put to the test, such as checking stability during supersonic flight, or checking the highest achievable speed at maximum load capacity. In system test flights, tactical features of the fighter such as sensors, weaponry, communication and EW capabilities are examined.

“Being a part of developing a highly advanced and modern fighter just like the Gripen is something very rare and unique, and it’s a dream for many engineers and pilots, and for me, that dream is reality”, says Mikael.

Watch the full interview here.

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Developing new generation fighters on schedule is no mean feat. As per a recent case study, Hardware-in-the-loop systems have helped Saab reduce flight testing. Hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) systems being used for testing Gripen E’s multiple line-replacement units (LRU).

The LRUs make up several integral components of Saab’s smart fighter, such as flight control and tactical systems, sensors and avionics equipment. Needless to say, each of these components are tested many times. These tests are complex processes, and in some cases, the response and performance of 40 interconnected LRUs are tested together. 

Engineers examined a number of commercial off the shelf (COTS) products as I/O test Gripen E’s HIL systems before narrowing it down to National Instruments’ (NI) PXI and CompactRIO platforms. The aforementioned COTS products were so chosen because of their stellar modularity and expansion abilities come in handy when testing the response of LRUs to various different simulated signal types aping real life scenarios. In other words, these technologies allow testing engineers to test several of Gripen E’s flight capabilities in a closed environment of a lab or a hangar without ever taking off, saving fuel and cutting down on the risk.

Read the full story here.

One of the most famous aerial display pilots, Captain Ivo Kardoš, presented a terrific performance for the visitors at the Bucharest International Air Show 2018 in Romania.This year, BIAS commemorated 100 years of the Romanian Air Force. The airshow was held on 28 July.​

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The pace at which technology has changed over the last few decades, and continues to do so, has been impressive to say the least. The computers, processors, and electronics of tomorrow are going to be even better and faster. This means any product - no matter how advanced it is - being developed today will have some or a lot of catching up to do every now and then.

For new age fighters, upgradability will be the key. It is for this very reason that Gripen E has been developed with future progress in mind. “The future pilot will need the ability to continuously upgrade the hardware and software and not get stuck in old functionality; this is of increasing importance,” says Saab’s Wing Commander Flying and Gripen test pilot Hans Einerth.

So, how does Saab build a system that is ready for tomorrow, a fighter that will have an edge in an uncertain future?

The answer is 'Split Avionics'. Separating flight critical and mission critical means a less complicated system that allows for easy modifications. Here is how it works at so many levels. 

Gripen avionics system separates 10% of core flight critical management codebase from 90% of tactical management code. This results in avionics that are hardware agnostic, leaving the tactical management to be integrated with new features without the need to re-certify the flight critical software.

Saab’s Avionic Management System (AMS) for Gripen is the first truly open architecture avionics platform. Conscious decoupling ...

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For the first time ever, Hungarian Air Force Gripen and Royal Air Force Typhoons trained together by participating in the exercise Flying Sword. 

The objective of Flying Sword, which was held at the Kecskemet Air Base Air Base between 30 July and 3 August, was to develop and enhance the operational effectiveness of Hungarian Gripen fighters, with the aid of several practice and training missions conducted with RAF Typhoons.

The air forces jointly planned and implemented several NATO operations and drills, with a goal to increase the combat readiness of the airplanes, especially from an interoperational perspective. 

Though the Hungarian Air Force and the Royal Air Force have participated in joint training exercises before as well, it was the first time the RAF Typhoons and HuAF Gripen fighters trained together. The two fighters conducted both visual combat and beyond visual range missions on all days of the exercise.

“While the Typhoon is a twin-engine plane and Gripen is comparatively smaller in size, the two fighters performed seamlessly during the training drills,” said Csaba Ugrik, Brigadier General and Base Commander at MH 59. Dezső Szentgyörgyi Air Base.

According to RAF Squadron Leader Ellis Williams, Flying Sword was a great opportunity to learn from each other's experiences.

“We work on the same rules and tactics, so to operate with a different nation is quite comforting. It is exciting to train with different fighters, and different group of people. But ultimately, we are all growing, we ...

When you are tasked with building the best avionics computer platform for Gripen, you will face technical challenges every day. Saab system engineer Diana talks about how she works around these challenges and what is it like to work at Saab.

"I use my analytical and pedagogical skills to solve these challenges," Diana says.

Diana has worked in the telecom industry for the past 10 years, and is primarily assigned with the task of building the computer avionics platform for Gripen. According to Diana, this platform will offer real time properties that the Gripen control and steering system needs, and will also make it easy to develop advanced applications to fulfill aircraft missions. 

On being asked about the taskforce behind the big task, Diana says, "There are around 60 people involved in the APS (Avionics Platform Software) project. The functions of the people range from systems engineers to designers and testers, and the specialties and backgrounds are from computer engineers, to mathematicians, physicists and mechanical engineers."

Read the full interview here.

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Two Gripen fighters participated in this year's first photo shoot by the Czech Air Force. The aerial photoshoot took place around the 21st Tactical Air Force Base in Caslav. The pictures were shot from a C-295 CASA transport aircraft that flew from 24th Base in Kbely. 

A couple of subsonic battleships viz. L-159s were also photographed during the same session. The annual photography session is part of the normal training exercise of the Czech Defence Forces. 

Read full story here.

Image Courtesy:​

​Sweden has been experiencing one of the hottest summers in a long time due to which wildfires have become a common phenomenon all throughout the Arctic circle. 

To control one such forest fire which had spread near the military range in the country, Swedish emergency management authorities took Gripen's help to drop a single 500-pound class GBU 12 bomb. The strong air pressure from the explosion can help extinguish the blaze just like a puff of air can blow out a candle. 

The Gripen fighters flew 3000m above ground, and with high precision, the pilots targeted the front of the line of the fire where they dropped the bomb. Once they hit the target, the 500 pound explosives managed to extinguish the flames. 


Passing through 

Who needs an airstrip when a public road can do the job? Gripen is tailor-made for short take off and landings like this example from exercise Aurora 17, Sweden.

Photo: Per Kustvik

To download the calendar, click here.

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Saab will intensify its flight trials once it has the two new Gripen E prototypes ready, reports Jane's. The ever evolving aircraft is now set to get two new prototypes, according to Saab’s head of Aeronautics, Jonas Hjelm.

Last year, the first prototype of the Gripen, dubbed 39-8, was revealed. That is soon to be followed up by the 39-9 and 39-10. Both these prototypes have already left the production line at Linkoping, and are currently undergoing verification ahead of their first flights, which is scheduled for 2019.

Jonas Hjelm outlined the necessity for the new prototypes – the 39-9 will be a testbed for the tactical systems, whereas the 39-10 is being designed to be the first production-standard airframe. “The avionics in 39-9 and 39-10 are almost completely different from 39-8, and this shows that our development concept for the aircraft works,” said Hjelm. Incidentally, the 39-7, which was the Gripen demonstrator, is continuing to serve as a test platform throughout the flight trials.

Read full story here.

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