Defence and security company Saab has started the assembly of the next-generation Gripen, the Gripen E. First to be constructed is the front fuselage of the first pre-production test aircraft 39-8.
Following a short and intense period of design using the latest tools and methods, through so-called ‘Model Based Design’, the construction of the Gripen E begins with the manufacturing and assembly of all parts of the fuselage; the largest and most time-consuming part of the airframe.
These parts will then be joined together and assembled into a complete airframe. This is followed by an intensive construction period to install cables, mount systems, the outer shell and other equipment. More than 1 000 people at Saab are now working solely with the development and production of the Gripen E.
“What we are experiencing now is a leap in technology for Saab and the global aeronautical industry, as we can see the latest and most modern fighter being constructed using the latest processes, methods and tools. This allows us to bring forward an even more capable fighter at an even more favourable life cycle cost,” says Lennart Sindahl, head of Business Area Aeronautics at Saab.
“Following years of R&D investments in aeronautical design, we can offer unique opportunities for transfer of knowledge and technology by inviting customer countries’ industries into the work on Gripen E. The Gripen E programme will also continue to drive technological development as well as the creation of jobs, both in Sweden and in other countries.”
Based on the design of previous versions of the Gripen system, the Gripen E offers a next-generation sensor suite, new communication links, revolutionary avionics architecture, more thrust, increased flight time, more weapon stations and load capability, a fully digital cockpit, including HUD (Head-Up Display), and a brand new electronic warfare system.
The test aircraft 39-8 will be the first complete pre-production version of the Gripen E and will be used to demonstrate new features and capabilities. The technological leaps in the Gripen E have been proven in the Gripen demonstrator programme with the Gripen E/F demo aircraft that has flown for over 250 hours in countries such as Sweden, the UK, India and Switzerland (in Emmen in October 2012, January and April 2013) since 2008.
On 15 February, Saab signed an agreement with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) regarding development and modification of 60 Gripen E for Sweden during the period 2013-2026, as well as a possible order for new production of Gripen E for Switzerland.