08 November 2009

Saab's Gripen Demo Makes First Flight with AESA Radar

8 November 2009

Saab's Gripen Demo now has its AESA radar installed (photo : Saab)

Saab's Gripen Demo aircraft has made its first test flight since receiving a key technology on offer to potential export customers including Brazil, India and Switzerland.

Now equipped with the antenna and other elements of Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems' Vixen 1000E/ES05 Raven active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the two-seat demonstrator resumed its flight activities on 27 October, when it performed a sortie from Saab's Linköping site in Sweden.

AESA radar for Gripen (photo :Militaryphotos)

The heavily modified B-model aircraft had been on the ground in refit for the last several months, during which time Saab integrated its AESA array, new satellite communications equipment and additional internal fuel capacity. It has also gained new electro-optical radar warning receivers and missile approach warning sensors developed by Saab Avitronics.

The Demo airframe has now completed more than 80 flights since May 2008, and is being used to de-risk technologies intended for use with Saab's future NG (new generation) production standard of the Gripen.

The type has already been shortlisted in competitions in Brazil, India and Switzerland, and will equip the Swedish air force from 2014.

The Gripen NG's radar offers improved off-boresight coverage (image : Flight International)

Selex says flight tests of its new AESA design, which uses a unique "swashplate" mounting to significantly boost the sensor's area of coverage, will also support the technology's possible future integration with the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The UK Ministry of Defence earlier this year confirmed a desire to equip its Tranche 3 Typhoons with AESA radars, and industry sources say a flight-test programme with the Selex design is expected to take place from 2012. EADS has previously flown an AESA array on a Eurofighter development aircraft in Germany.

(Flight Global)

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